WINDHOEK – Swapo yesterday said it will pursue, with renewed energy, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) for legal fees spent on the marathon electoral court challenge emanating from the 2009 general election.
The matter, brought to the High Court by RDP and eight other opposition parties disputing their heavy loss to the ruling party in that election, was eventually dismissed with costs.
But Attorney-General Albert Kawana, speaking in the National Assembly yesterday, said RDP has yet to reimburse Swapo for fees spent on top lawyers – some of who were flown in from South Africa.
Swapo was represented in the matter by revered South African lawyer Ishmael Semenya, SC, whose fees are believed to have been astronomical.
High Court Judge Collins Parker, with Judge President Peter Damaseb concurring, dismissed the application with costs, including one instructed counsel and four instructed counsel for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), as well as two instructed counsels for Swapo. The costs were against the nine opposition parties jointly and severally, the one paying and the others to be absolved, the court ruled at the time. The opposition parties elevated their fight to the Supreme Court, but with no success.
It is not clear whether the parties have since reimbursed ECN, which was represented by Vincent Maleka, also a prominent lawyer from South Africa.
While MPs debated the credibility of Namibian elections in parliament yesterday, Kawana rose to remind RDP that the dislodged former official opposition has yet not complied with the court order to take care of the legal fees incurred by respondents in the matter.
“I will pursue you,” said Kawana.
“Your case of 2009 was dismissed with costs but you have yet not settled your dues with Swapo,” he said.
Gender equality minister Doreen Sioka then rose to demand that Kawana give a timeline within which he would claim Swapo’s dues from RDP.
Swapo MPs scoffed at suggestions that the party rigs elections, saying it had no competition from the opposition to warrant any such clandestine tactics.
“You can change names of your parties as often as you want, but we’ll still win hands down,” Kawana said, seemingly parting a shot at the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), which last year changed its name from DTA.