Is he or is he not the president of Swapo?

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Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

With a quick look at the daily topics in the country one will be forgiven for thinking that some people in our nation, especially the media, are fixated on fuelling unnecessary turmoil, instability and division within the Swapo Party. Even mundane, clear issues are being twisted to fit the agenda of Swapo detractors. Everything in Swapo is being portrayed as representing particular camps in the party. What is the agenda, and whose agenda is it? This question should be uppermost in the minds of Swapo members.

Yes, it is congress year and naturally the enemies of the party are hard at work to sow division so as to suit the agenda of their erstwhile anti-Swapo baas.

First things first: surely, the question of the title Acting President, President, or Vice President is not relevant at this point in time. It was relevant and more convenient for discussion at the time of President Pohamba’s resignation, when it should have been exhaustively discussed and concluded. Raising it and contesting it during a congress year smacks of a destructive agenda which will not be in the interest of Swapo. But, be that as it may, let us look at the issues at hand.

1. Article V (9) of the Swapo constitution states that congress shall elect the Central Committee, the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary-General, and the Deputy-Secretary General.

2. Article IX Section B (3) states that the Vice-President “shall exercise same powers and carry out the duties of the President in the absence of the President”.
The above constitutional provisions are important when one wishes to discuss the presidency of Swapo.

There is a general assumption by some Swapo sympathisers and supporters, rightly or wrongly, that should the president resign, for whatever reason, an extraordinary congress may be required to elect a successor until the next congress.

Article V (12) clearly states that “the Central Committee may on its own initiative, or at the request of at least two-thirds majority of all regional executive committees, convene an extraordinary congress of the Party”. (13) The agenda of an extraordinary congress shall be proposed by the initiators of such a congress.

The two constitutional provisions above are important in the event that the party is confronted with a potentially crucial issue that may require a resolution of congress. Simple logic dictates that if the presidency issue was very contentious in Swapo, to the magnitude it is rendered in social media, the Swapo structures, through the Central Committee, would have invoked Article V (12).

Did the party see the need to invoke this constitutional provision when President Pohamba resigned or did it find that Article IX Section B (3) was sufficient to deal with the matter? Party members know the answer, and obviously supporters and sympathisers may continue speculating.

In simpler terms, no two-thirds majority within the party saw this as a major issue. In other words, the majority are content with the way things are that the party has a president who happens to be the vice-president at the same time.

For interest’s sake, is Dr Hage Geingob legally and constitutionally executing the duties of the president of Swapo as provided for by the Swapo Party constitution’s Article IV Section B (3)? Does he legally and constitutionally have the same powers of the president of Swapo Party as per the Article above? Again, only Swapo members can answer the two questions above proudly without fear or favour, while supporters and sympathisers will continue to speculate.

Swapo Party supporters, sympathisers, fence-sitters and detractors should point out a constitutional provision that states that the party will have an “acting president” in the absence of the president. If they cannot, then it would be best for them to respect those who wrote and uphold the Swapo Party constitution.

Article IV (C (2) ), dealing with the obligations of members of Swapo, enjoins all members to (e) “to observe and comply with decisions, resolutions and directives of the majority, even though he or she might have voted against them or held a diverging opinion during the discussion (or election)”.

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