WINDHOEK – RDP Central Committee Member and Member of Parliament Peter Naholo has come out of his shell by declaring his candidacy for the party’s presidency.
The RDP is grappling with division among its top leaders ahead of its elective convention next month, which was clearly evident in the National Assembly on Tuesday when some of its MPs voted against a motion tabled by a colleague.
In a media statement issued yesterday, Naholo said: “The time has arrived for me to set the record straight and I do hereby pronounce my candidacy for the presidential position of the RDP. As is a norm in any democratic process I was approached by a number of comrades in the party to stand as president and after careful consideration I decided to avail myself for the position of RDP presidency for the sole purpose of serving Namibia and its people.”
Naholo said there is a need to inject new blood within the RDP leadership and that it was also time to liven things up in the party. He promised to concentrate on marketing the RDP political programme, building the party structures and providing space for youth participation in the party structures.
The former unionist also promised to address the fate of Caprivi detainees and a compensation programme for the recently released so-called secessionist detainees, as well as raise national dialogue on the ex-detainee issue.
“If I succeed as I hope, I pledge to keep our own party ranks well knit together. I vehemently oppose outdated and dirty practices such as slander and character assassination of my fellow comrades. I strongly believe that after the dust and tumble of politics prior to the convention we will at the end of the day say let’s be done with the past and its bickering and face the future as one.”
Naholo will lock horns with Kandy Nehova who launched his RDP presidency campaign last weekend. Naholo and Nehova are the only two who have so far declared their ambitions for the party’s presidency, although there is talk that the incumbent Hidipo Hamutenya and Secretary for Information and Publicity Jeremiah Nambinga also want to stand for the position.
But the leadership succession within the official opposition party seems to be causing divisions among its leaders, and probably compromising their articulation of issues in parliament. On Tuesday, the motion which called for parliament to pronounce itself on the urgency of overhauling the Electoral Act exposed clearly how the party is divided. The motion was moved by the RDP’s Anton von Wietersheim and seconded by Kandy Nehova, but was rejected by the House after Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development Minister Charles Namholoh objected to the debate, causing a vote on the matter.
Namholoh said it was not right for the House to debate the matter while it was widely known that the government was busy working on changing the Electoral Act as recommended by the High Court during the 2009 election court case challenge.
Justice Minister Uutoni Nujoma, and Swapo backbencher Kazenambo Kazenambo, seconded Namholoh’s objection. Deputy Speaker Loide Kasingo was left with no choice but to declare the House divided, hence the vote.
Six MPs voted in favour of the motion, 33 voted against it while three abstained. Although the motion was tabled by an RDP member, not all the party’s members present in the House supported it with some, strangely, voting against the motion. Only Von Wietersheim, Nehova and Agnes Limbo with other three opposition members voted in favour of the motion.
Senior RDP leaders Steven Bezeidenhout and Jesaya Nyamu who share the same bench did not support the motion, leaving spectators describing it as a clear ugly division within the rank and file of the RDP. Naholo was however not present in parliament on Tuesday.
Approached for comment, RDP Secretary General Jesaya Nyamu said he did not vote in favour of the motion because he “did not want to support chaos”. He however did not want to elaborate further, but pointed out that it was also not useful since the rulling party which has the majority members divided the House.
The motion was first blocked by the party executives last week and referred to the caucuses. After consultation with the party chief whips, it was agreed that Von Witersheim should not table a motion but rather bring the issue in the form of a question. However, the RDP politician only changed a few things and moved the motion again.
On the issue of candidacy, Nyamu said the party’s leadership held a lengthy meeting last night on the matter of succession and those who want to contest the elections were told to wait before making their decision public. “This is internal politics, some people do not want to follow procedures, they are power hungry and they just want to announce it in public.”
Nyamu said the party would pronounce itself soon on the issue of candidates for positions at the upcoming convention.
By Tonateni Shidhudhu