Interdict halts swearing-in of councillor

New Era Newspaper Namibia
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Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula yesterday declared round one in the fight for the Helao Nafidi Town Councillor position in favour of Ester Ndatala Nghidimbwa, who approached the High Court to declare a decision to remove her from Helao Nafidi Council unlawful.

The deputy judge president interdicted Helao Nafidi Town Council from commencing with the swearing-in of Lucia Nghililewanga as councillor, pending the finalisation of the hearing to set aside the decision to remove Nghidimbwa from office.

He further ordered the legal representative of Swapo to file answering affidavits to the founding affidavit of Nghidimbwa by the end of business yesterday and for Khadila Amoomo, the lawyer of Nghidimbwa, acting on instructions from Henry Shimutwikeni, to file his replying affidavit by end of business today.

Angula then postponed the matter to September 12 for the hearing to take place.

Swapo Party and its secretary-general Nangula Mbumba, Helao Nafidi Town Council, Mayor of Helao Nafidi Eliaser Ngipangwela, Lucia Ngililewanga and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) are cited as respondents in the matter.

At the heart of the court action is a decision by Mbumba to withdraw Nghidimbwa as councillor and replace her with Ngililewanga.
Mbumba allegedly based his decision on the fact that Nghidimbwa never stood for election as a local authority councillor, but rather competed at regional level for Oshikango District.

Nghidimbwa did not take the decision lying down. She instructed her legal representative, Henry Shimutwikeni, to write to Mbumba to withdraw the instruction to remove her, as it is unlawful and violates the principles of justice and fairness.

However, Nghidimbwa says, two days later she received a letter from the legal representative of Mbumba through Shimutwikeni, saying her plea was dismissed and further that she would be brought before a disciplinary hearing.

According to her, she had no other recourse than to approach the court on an urgent basis to protect her rights, as she would otherwise suffer irreparable harm.

This, she said, is because Nghipangwela was already directed to swear in Ngililewanga and this could happen any time before the finalisation of the application, unless it is interdicted by the court.

According to her, the decision to withdraw her is unlawful and liable to be set aside, because the decision was not taken in terms of any law and the party misconstrued the extent of its powers.

“The decision by the second respondent (Mbumba) was made without a fair process being followed. I was not heard, nor was I given an opportunity to cross-examine or call [any] witness before the decision was made,” Nghidimbwa states in her founding affidavit.

She says she stood for election in both the regional and local authority elections in 2015 and was informed by the acting regional coordinator of Swapo Party, Mandume Pohamba, that she must relinquish the candidature at local authority level and only stand in the constituency elections.

She further said – to the best of her knowledge – the procedure followed to become a regional councillor is through elections held by the Swapo districts in the constituency concerned and to become a local councillor one participates in elections in the town concerned.

She fell out of the candidature for the constituency councillor elections at party level and conceded defeat.

As she is also the district coordinator for Oshikango, she then was informed that the list sent to ECN needed an additional five names and her name was thus proposed.

After the elections she was informed that she would be sworn in as a local authority councillor, Nghidimbwa stated.


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