RDP downplays merger talks to retain status

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WINDHOEK – The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) has brushed off talks that it is in the process of lobbying with smaller parties to become the official opposition should it lose that to the DTA.

By 20h30 last night, the DTA was sitting in second place behind Swapo, with only the Kavango East Region’s results pending countrywide.
Swapo had 75.96 percent of the votes verified at the time followed by DTA with 6.38 percent and RDP with 3.79. In the presidential elections, Swapo’s Dr Hage Geingob was leading with 87 percent followed by McHenry Venaani (5 percent) and Hidipo Hamutenya (4 percent) of the votes verified at the time.

RDP vice-president Steve Bezuidenhoudt last night told New Era that he had no knowledge of any plans for a coalition, adding that should such views surface internally he would oppose them.

“It is the first time I am hearing of such a plan. I see we are doing badly with the results, but let us wait for the final outcome.

Any party that gets the biggest chunk of seats after the ruling party is the official opposition,” he said.

“Forming coalitions amongst opposition parties to oust another opposition party is of no use because there is no use being the official opposition or just an ordinary opposition party while the ruling party enjoys a huge majority,” he said.

Bezuidenhoudt also downplayed the viability of such a move, adding: “Will the opposition be able to discuss and make decisions without fighting and who will lead this coalition?

“All political parties should accept the outcome of the elections and not try any funny games.”

DTA President McHenry Venaani yesterday told this newspaper he was aware of such talks doing the rounds but indicated he was not threatened in any way.

“I am hearing a rumour that RDP wants to form a coalition with other parties to become the official opposition if we [DTA] become the official opposition. I am not threatened at all, we did our part and we earned it, if we cannot have it they can have it. For me it was important to double the party’s efforts during these polls,” Venaani said.

Meanwhile, Venaani also spoke about the impact which Katuutire Kaura’s decision to boycott the party’s political campaign in the weeks leading up to the polls had on the party’s campaign.

The rift began when Venaani defeated Kaura during internal party elections to become party president. Political experts have however claimed that Venaani’s performance could have been greater if he had Kaura’s full backing.

Kaura said the decision to boycott the party’s campaign was because the party’s youthful leadership accused him of being a liability.

Venaani said assistance during the campaign from Kaura and veteran Philemon Moongo would have added weight to the campaign.

“I did not have the hands I needed but despite that we still did well. I know comrade Moongo is very ill so I could not expect much from him. But I must say he tried his level best because he even attended our gathering in Oshakati. At least Moongo came to me to explain his situation. As for Kaura, he must speak for himself,” said Venaani.

Venaani indirectly accused Kaura of sabotaging their own movements if elections did not go their way.

“African politicians have a tendency of not supporting those who beat them during elections. If they lose they stay away. People are not loyal to their parties because they only think of their stomachs,” he said.

“I did not have the hands I needed but I ran a solid campaign and I proved my critics wrong with the election outcome. We increased our numbers in Okakarara, the stronghold of Kaura, and I feel he could have played a big role in that regard,” said Venaani.

Venaani said his performance during the presidential elections is a clear indication that Namibian youth are able to compete for any position.

Kaura yesterday said the decision to suspend him from the party as well as some party members calling him a liability to the party were the reasons why he abstained from attending the party’s campaigns.

New Era asked him why he and Moongo did not campaign for Venaani and the party the same manner in which Swapo top guns Dr Sam Nujoma and Swapo’s President Hifikepunye Pohamba campaigned countrywide for Swapo and Geingob.

“Why must I attend the campaign if they said I am a liability for the party? Was Nujoma and Pohamba ever kicked out of Swapo? By the way I am an old man hence I left the campaign for the youth but the moral support was always there,” said Kaura.

Having been kicked out of the party earlier this year, Kaura said the party only decided to rescind his expulsion from the party because “I told them that DTA is in my blood and nobody can throw me out of the party”.

By Mathias Haufiku

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