By John Ekongo
The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) yesterday reacted to their humiliating defeat in the just-ended Eenhana by-election, claiming that from the start, the election process was neither free nor fair.
RDP interim president, Hidipo Hamutenya, during a press conference, claimed that Swapo had employed ‘ruthless’ voter intimidation and below-the-belt campaigning.
Having said that, however, Hamutenya added that even though Eenhana is water under the bridge, the RDP would still remain “a thorn in Swapo’s back”.
“In our view, the Eenhana election was neither free nor fair, in saying that we will let it go, but we are definitely aware that it was not fair or free,” said Hamutenya.
The RDP maintained that the run up to the Eenhana by-election was littered with irregularities, ranging from the printing of ballot papers, to people being recruited to conduct supplementary voter registration at Eenhana and Omuthiya.
RDP claimed that the printing of ballot papers by Swapo-owned company, Namprint, clearly constituted a conflict of interest.
“ECN (Electoral Commission of Namibia) knew that Swapo was a competitor in that election, RDP strongly objected to what was a callous disregard of the principle of conflict of interest,” reads a RDP statement.
The RDP alleged that the people recruited to conduct supplementary voter registration in Eenhana and Omuthiya, “were deliberately all Swapo members”.
The RDP says they lodged an objection with the ECN, but apparently were told by the ECN that it is procedural for them to obtain support from local councillors.
This, according to RDP, is a clear indication that Swapo will do anything to stay in power.
“The just-ended Eenhana election demonstrates, once again, that Swapo is not committed to democratic principles. It is patently clear that Swapo will stop at nothing to retain its hold on power including the flagrant flouting of the country’s laws, intimidation and the abuse of State resources.”
Hamutenya accused Swapo of being unable to distinguish between State and party.
When approached for comment, Swapo’s secretary for information and mobilisation, Jerry Ekandjo, dismissed the allegations.
“It is nothing new whenever an opposition party loses in this country. Those allegations will always come up,” said Ekandjo.
“Any party must know that Swapo is here to stay, no force on earth will destroy Swapo, the old South African dispensation tried and they did not succeed,” he continued.
“A party that has no structure, no leadership, no district, and not even a constitution, comes and tells people to vote for the RDP not knowing what direction it is taking them. For Eenhana, the people know that Swapo liberated this country. Eenhana is a Swapo stronghold since time immemorial,” concluded Ekandjo.