Two out of the five candidates in the race to succeed Hidipo Hamutenya, as Rally for Democracy and Progress president, have said they would push for a seat in the National Assembly if elected to lead the party.
The party’s central committee earlier this year decided that the incoming president should not take up a seat in parliament, but two of the candidates are planning to sidestep that decision.
Long-serving party member Libolly Haufiku and former RDP MP Heiko Lucks during separate interviews with New Era last week expressed strongly that the party president must be in parliament. Both would push for a seat in the national legislature if they win the internal elections slated for later this month.
The party is currently represented in parliament by vice president Steve Bezuidenhoudt, secretary general Mike Kavekotora and his deputy Agnes Limbo.
Ranked fourth on the party’s National Assembly list, Limbo is the most probable sacrificial lamb to make way for the new president.
Limbo told New Era on Friday that she would follow any decision taken by the majority.
“Some of us have fought enough during the struggle, I cannot be fighting again to be in parliament,” Limbo said.
An ordinary MP earns about N$540 000 per year, which includes perks such as transport, water and electricity, medical aid and housing allowances. Bezuidenhoudt told New Era last month that he would vehemently oppose having party president sit in parliament because the president must commit all his attention to the party.
“Whoever is pushing for the president not to be in parliament is out of place, that arrangement is not feasible,” said Haufiku.
Haufiku said party supporters across the country, whom he has engaged, are also of the view that the party president should be in parliament.
“People are angry because of that decision, they want to know why the president must be outside parliament, how will he [president] market himself and advance the party’s policies. Many feel the administrators [secretary general and deputy secretary general] should be on the ground running the party,” he said.
“Parliament is a logical place for the president to be because he is the one who should confront the state president during the state of the nation address and he must be in the public eye to represent the party,” said Lucks.
Lucks also claimed that the party’s central committee (CC), which he is part of, never took a decision that prevents the incoming president from going to parliament.
“That CC decision is controversial, I am also a member and I can tell you that we never decided that the president must not sit in parliament it was just discussions but no final decision was taken. It was a decision taken by the minority because the majority did not agree with it,” he said. Lucks feels administrators such as Kavekotora and Limbo are the ones who should be on the ground managing party affairs.
“Look at the responsibilities of the officials, the president must be in the public eye to represent the party at different levels, many of those can only be done if the president is in parliament,” Lucks said.
“There is nothing wrong with the president not being in parliament, look at DTA, [McHenry] Venaani was not in parliament when he took over the party in 2013, he was on the ground working for the party and they performed well during the elections,” said Limbo.
Other candidates such as Christiaan Nguherimo and Jeremiah Nambinga declined to openly state their position when contacted yesterday.