WINDHOEK -The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) yesterday announced it will not accept Hidipo Hamutenya making a U-turn on his earlier decision to retire as the party president.
Hamutenya revealed the shock about-turn in a letter addressed to the RDP secretary general Mike Kavekotora and the entire leadership on Friday – the day on which he was supposed to step down. He made known his intentions to retire last month during the party’s Central Committee meeting.
“I would like to make it categorically clear that during the abovementioned meeting, I was pushed out by a faction of the leadership which has for the past months declared a crusade against me for allegedly causing the poor performance of the party in the recently held national elections,” Hamutenya states in his letter.
Hamutenya did not name those who allegedly forced him out of the party.
RDP sources claim he was referring to his deputy Steve Bezuidenhoudt, Kavekotora and Agnes Limbo.
The RDP can now be construed to have two presidents, seeing that Bezuidenhoudt is acting president while Hamutenya in his mind is still “president”, after he dramatically reversed his earlier decision to quit.
However, Kavekotora yesterday said Hamutenya resigned at the party’s highest decision-making organ – the Central Committee – therefore the letter addressed to Kavekotora does not hold any water.
“NEC [National Executive Committee] lives by the decision of the Central Committee meeting that the vice-president, secretary general and deputy secretary general will be the three to represent the RDP in the 6th National Assembly,” said Kavekotora.
Kavekotora said he was shocked by the sudden change of mind, adding: “I know there are people behind him advising him to do these things. Even some of his family members were shocked by the announcement to rescind his decision.”
When Hamutenya announced his resignation, the party confirmed vice-president Steve Bezuidenhoudt as the acting president until the party holds its extraordinary convention in May to find a suitable successor for Hamutenya and at the same time establish a preparatory committee consisting of five people to prepare for the convention.
According to Hamutenya: “The utterances I made under pressure at the CC have been revoked as of today, February 27 2015.”
Hamutenya said he was “persistently coerced” to make known his exact date of retirement, “which as party president I eventually did against my conscience and against my human rights.”
He urged party members who resigned as a result of his forced resignation also to revoke their resignations.
The party’s leadership at a press conference held to announce Hamutenya’s retirement were steadfast the veteran politician voluntarily retired – and was not forced out as he insists.
New Era understands a number of Hamutenya loyalists – many northern-based business persons – decided to quit the party after Hamutenya announced his supposed retirement.
“I would therefore need to inform you in unambiguous terms that I am not going anywhere until I myself without any due pressure announce my retirement,” Hamutenya stated.
Hamutenya, who has been in Namibian politics for more than half a decade, made it clear in his letter that he does not plan to be a lifetime politician, adding: “When the right time arrives, I will procedurally retire.”
With Hamutenya announcing at the time that he would retire end of February, RDP vice-president Bezuidenhoudt was supposed to fill Hamutenya’s shoes as acting party president as from March 1.
Bezuidenhoudt was one of the party leaders who goaded Hamutenya into retirement by publicly urging the veteran politician to step down.
Sources claim some members of the party’s CC urged Hamutenya to resign if he did not want to be embarrassed through an extraordinary convention.
With Hamutenya claiming that he pumped about N$100 000 into the RDP’s election campaign, rumours doing the rounds are that the leadership waited until after the elections to push Hamutenya aside to ensure the cash-strapped minority party benefits from his financial injection.