By Kuvee Kangueehi
Infighting within the Congress of Democrats (CoD) has resulted in the National Assembly withholding payment of a cheque to the party under the Government political parties grant.
Both factions demanded to have the cheque.
Controversy started after Ben Ulenga wrote a letter to the Speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab, and informed him that the party had appointed Tsudao Gurirab as the new chief whip, replacing Nora Schimming-Chase. The change meant that Gurirab could collect the party cheque.
Ulenga argued that the cheque belongs to the CoD party and not to an individual or a parliamentarian and thus must be paid into the CoD bank account.
He noted that the cheque had nothing to do with the ongoing legal battle and that since he (Ulenga) is still legally the president of the CoD, until proven otherwise, he does not see any reason why the National Assembly should withhold the cheque from him or someone delegated by him.
He noted that the CoD has the right to change its chief whip and this is strictly the business of the party (to appoint a chief whip of its choice).
The letter prompted Schimming-Chase and Elma Dienda to approach the Speaker to plead with him not to release the cheque, claiming that they are the authentic CoD.
Ulenga said he has consulted his lawyers to request the National Assembly to release the cheque, as they need to pay staff and meet other party related expenses.
The cheque is believed to be in excess of N$300 000.
This is not the first time that controversy has surrounded the CoD cheque. Two months ago, the Ulenga group made a criminal case against Schimming-Chase for collecting the cheque.
Schimming-Chase claimed then that the cheque that she collected was placed in a safe. It later emerged that the cheque had been deposited in the CoD Parliamentary Caucus account at NedBank in Windhoek.
Bank records showed that the cheque valued at N$265 000 was paid into the account on July 19, the same day it was collected from Parliament, and that vast sums of money had been withdrawn.
The records showed that the first withdrawal of N$50 000 was made on July 28, and N$29 000 was withdrawn at different times.
On August 2 and 3, N$9 000 and N$10 500 was withdrawn respectively, while on August 11, a withdrawal of N$40 000 was made.
The CoD has been in turmoil since its extraordinary congress in May at Keetmanshoop leading to a legal case. The case that seeks to nullify results of the disputed congress that saw Ulenga re-elected is set for January next year.