By Kuvee Kangueehi
The Windhoek High Court has nullified the outcome of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) extraordinary congress that took place in May last year at Keetmanshoop and ordered the re-instatement of the CoD leaders who were expelled on August 11, 2007.
The order thus makes the CoD leadership under Ben Ulenga, which was elected at the extra-ordinary congress, null and avoid and the party reverts to the leadership before the disastrous congress.
In the judgment delivered by High Court Judge Louis Muller yesterday, the court further ordered the applicants and respondents to adhere to the agreement they signed on June 25, 2007.
The agreement in short reads: “Should the panel find that the alleged irregularities at the extraordinary congress warrant a nullification of the proceedings and election results the parties agree to such nullification and the newly elected leadership shall step down”.
The court also ordered CoD to organise and hold an extraordinary congress within five months in order to fill the relevant positions as set out in the party constitution.
In an attempt to ensure that the extraordinary congress runs smoothly, the judge ordered that the applicants and the respondents nominate one person to serve as member of an electoral commission of the CoD and the commission shall be chaired by an independent person nominated and appointed jointly.
The judgment, which is clearly a major blow to Ulenga, ordered the respondents to pay 50 percent of the applicants’ cost in the application.
Nora Schimming-Chase, who has been re-instated as party vice president by the court order was extremely happy with the outcome of the court case.
Schimming-Chase who is one of the applicants said justice has finally prevailed and it is a great day for democracy.
She said the judge has clearly shown that one cannot orchestrate an election and try to expel individuals that were elected by the people.
Schimming-Chase challenged Ulenga to step down as president of the party and said Ulenga earlier pledged that he would step down should the panel find irregularities on the extraordinary congress.
She added that before December 17, 2008, the CoD would have completed its congress and be a formidable opposition party again.
Ulenga is expected to call a press conference this morning.
The CoD has been in a legal battle since the controversial extraordinary congress.
The applicants in the matter are Ignatius Shixwameni, Schimming-Chase, late Kalla Reinhard Gertze, Pauline Dempers, Moses Katjiuongua, Elma Dienda and Herbert Schultz.
Meanwhile, some of the applicants in the matter are no longer members of the party while one has passed away.
The legal battle has also tarnished the name of the party following a bitter protracted wrangle in the media regarding the government grant to the party.
The six respondents in the application are the CoD, Ulenga, Tsudao Gurirab, Rosa Namises, Natjirikasora Tjirera and Innocentia Mokomele.