The ruling party Swapo last week served its suspended youth league leaders Job Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala with a fresh dossier of charges over their land campaign activities, replacing the original charges served on the trio in March.
But the three youths responded yesterday by stating that the party has no case against them and that they would be forced to approach the High Court if the party presses ahead with what they termed irregular suspensions.
The four new charges revolve around what Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba termed illegal occupation of land, the trio’s formation of the Affirmative Repositioning campaign, the July 31 deadline issued for local authorities to avail land to the masses, and for allegedly making statements aimed at embarrassing the party.
The alleged occupation of land, Mbumba charged, occurred two weeks before last year’s general elections, thereby embarrassing the party and harming its electoral fortunes.
Swapo and President Hage Geingob scored record victories last year, with the President winning an unprecedented 87% of the total votes.
In March this year, the three men were charged for – amongst others – land grabbing, but that charge has now been amended to ‘illegally occupying land’.
This was after the trio cleared land in the leafy suburb of Kleinne Kuppe in November last year. They claimed that the clearing of land was a demonstration against high rental and housing prices as well as allegations of corrupt land deals at the Windhoek Municipality.
Mbumba further argued that Affirmative Repositioning is an organised factional activity whose work “goes beyond the recognised norms of free debate within the party”, hence the second charge.
The three youth leaders’ issuance of a July 31 deadline, failure of which would result in mass occupation of land across the country, was described in the charge sheet as ‘threats of incitement’ which pose to disturb peace and stability in the country.
The three launched a scathing attack on Mbumba’s submission, saying that he stood no chance of success with the initial charges served in March, and that the amended charges are an attempt by the Swapo SG to have a second bite at the cherry.
In a document seen by New Era, Amupanda, Kambala and Nauyoma denied occupying any land, saying they only made public statements in Kleine Kuppe to highlight that land has reached a crisis point in the country.
They described Affirmative Repositioning as a vibrant, non-partisan and apolitical youth movement – formed to advocate for change in practises and policies that contribute to the high housing and rental prices.
“Affirmative Repositioning has been established on the basis of the fundamental rights we have in respect of freedom of association, thought and belief, and we cannot fathom as to on what basis you looked at Affirmative Repositioning through a political lens,” the three said in a joint response to Mbumba yesterday.
“For your information therefore, Affirmative Repositioning is here to stay in Namibia as a landless people’s movement and it does not require political affiliation for its members.”
They branded Mbumba as selective in dealing with party members, saying the founders of other non-political organisations such as the National Liberation Veterans Association (NLVA) as well as the Namibia Exile Kids Association (NEKA) were not subjected to similar treatment as Affirmative Repositioning founders.
They also highlighted six points that they said constituted irregularities in the manner they were charged, including a requirement by the party’s code of conduct that before a member is suspended, such member must be called and informed by the authorised party official or structure to divulge reasons for suspension.
Other technical arguments raised include the requirement that misconduct proceedings shall not exceed six months unless the politburo, with the approval of the central committee extends the period to nine months. The three were suspended on November 13 2014 and argue that the six months lapsed on May 13 this year.
“We are dealing with an incumbent who is determined to replace the party rules and procedures with the rule of his feelings and imaginations,” Nauyoma, speaking from Swakopmund, told New Era yesterday.
But perhaps the startling part of their response was their indication that they would approach the courts if the alleged irregularities in their suspension are overlooked by the party.
“We are advised that the right to approach the Namibian High Court to review is inalienable and fundamental in the Namibian constitution and cannot in any event be prohibited,” they said.