In a landmark judgment on issued in the High Court on Friday acting Judge Collins Parker told the governing Swapo Party that they violated their own rules when expelling Elijah Ngurare, Job Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala last year.
Collins Parker said, like the powers of government, political powers of political parties are capable of misuse and abuse. He said when the powerful Swapo Party sneezes the country can catch a cold and then ordered the party to reinstate the four men.
At the time of getting their marching orders, Ngurare was the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary, Amupanda was the spokesperson, while Nauyoma and Kambala were ordinary members of the youth wing.
Parker dismissed Swapo’s claim that the court has no jurisdiction to intervene and meddle in its internal affairs, saying that justice and fairness are not restricted to political matters and on that the judiciary had grounds to get involved.
In a fully-packed court, mostly with supporters and sympathisers of the so-called “Expelled Four”, or “Swapo Four” as they have come to be known, Parker told Swapo to reinstate the four’s membership of the party, but declined to order their reinstatement in their previous positions.
After setting aside the expulsion he ordered the ruling party to pay 60 percent of the plaintiffs’ legal costs, including costs that of the instructing counsel and instructed counsel.
The judgment was delivered 21 days earlier than the initial date set by Parker after hearing statements from both sides in February.
Swapo was represented by South African senior counsel Soni Vas and local lawyer Dirk Conradie, while the four expelled men were represented by South African advocate Vincent Maleka and local lawyer Amupanda Kamanja.
“It [Swapo] has a duty to bring members who go astray along, that is, to mould party members into principled individuals for the long-term viability of the party,” Parker said.
“Hence, the Constitution, as supplemented by the code of conduct, does not seek to punish, punish and punish only. These instruments also provide for a situation where it becomes necessary to correct, correct and correct,” Justice Parker stated.
“The issue is not whether the person involved deserves to be expelled from the [party]. Yet again, the issue is not who has the power or who has not go the power to expel a member from [Swapo]. The issue is simply whether there was due process.”
Parker said the Swapo leadership acted in breach of the contracts that binds the four men in their contractual relations with the party.
“I have no doubt that the decision-makers of the [party], acted according to the best of their judgment and with the utmost desire to do what they though was right, but I think they have made a mistake and so the right course is to grant declaration.”
He said the court found that the expulsions of the four men violated natural justice and was in violation of the Swapo constitution and code of conduct.
Shortly after the judgment Conradie told journalists they were not happy with Parker’s judgment and his team would study it before deciding whether to appeal against it or not.
“We did not hear properly what the judge said. We’re not very happy with the judgment. I, personally, am not happy with it. Considering the issues raised in the judgment we may advise our client to consider appealing the judgment,” Conradie said.
Justice Minister Albert Kawana said: “Our [Swapo] code of conduct is a very comprehensive document, which guides us on how to deal with party members. The judge says the party used one provision of that code, as opposed to other provisions. We’re now going to study the judgment and [then] the structures of the party will make a decision.”
Amupanda said: “Our primary concern was justice, the principles of justice in general and natural justice in particular. This is our country, which is built on blood and sweat of our heroes and heroines.
“It was never really about our positions – some of us have long resigned from those positions. We’re happy that tomorrow, when people have a different view, they’re not just going to be treated as non-starters. The court explained and took the position of justice. We’re happy that our judiciary remains independent.”
The four men were given the boot amidst ongoing bickering and factional infighting within the governing party, and predominantly for their involvement with or support of the Affirmative Repositioning movement.
The AR movement was created to pressure government into delivering affordable residential plots. An agreement was entered into between the two parties to have 200 000 plots serviced.
Government has announced it will service 26 000 residential erven by 2020.