Chairperson of the Swapo branch in Choi has denied claims that an election that took place to elect its new structure last week was not free and fair.
All the positions were retained except one. This follows a revelation by New Era over complaints that delegates to the election were told to close their eyes while voting by raising their hands – and their eyes remained closed while counting took place.
Kongola Constituency Councillor David Muluti reportedly oversaw the whole process.
According to delegates who have since called for a nullification of results and a re-election, they were compelled to close their eyes in a process some felt was unfair as Muluti who presided over the election together with an assistant was the only one with his eyes open and therefore could easily have rigged the election.
Sources insist the secret ballot is the most favourable process as per the Swapo constitution.
However, re-elected Choi branch chairperson Molinah Muatuli said she personally gave the floor to Kongola district coordinator Boniface Subulwa as she was one of candidates vying for the position, and denied Muluti chaired the meeting.
“I myself gave the floor to Mr Subulwa as I was one of the candidates. People elected us as they wished. They told us themselves that we have worked well and they want to retain us in our positions,” explained Muatuli.
Muatuli confirmed delegates had their eyes closed while voting, but that people themselves chose to vote that way instead of using the secret ballot, noting that some of the delegates who numbered over 100 were elders who do not know how to read and write.
“It was their decision to vote with their eyes closed. We know the constitution says people should vote with ballot papers but they took a decision they felt comfortable with. Some of the delegates were our elders who don’t know how to read and write,” further confirmed Muatuli.
She accused those complaining of being detractors who only want to cause confusion, dismissing calls for the nullification of results.
“We are not going to repeat the election. We have already elected people we wanted. As a branch we take a majority decision. The people who took this to the media are not from this area and are not even Swapo members,” charged Muatuli.
However, a source that formed part of the meeting stressed delegates never agreed to close their eyes but were told to do so by Muluti who presided over the election.
“People were just told to close their eyes by the councillor. Claims that people agreed to that are not true. What we know about elections is that people vote by secret ballot but that never happened. People were intimidated and only started complaining when they were dispersing,” said a source.
Approached for comment, Swapo regional coordinator Linus Mafale stated that his office met with branch chairperson and district coordinator Muatuli and that Subulwa and has not yet taken a decision regarding the matter.
“They came to the office and brought their report. We have not yet taken a decision even though we have not received any formal complaints regarding the matter,” noted Mafale.
The exercise was meant to restructure Swapo branches in the Kongola district.