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Swapo in funding challenges for extraordinary congress, legal battle looms

Written by on May 7, 2024

Swapo says it has no money to organise an extraordinary congress, which some members are legally pursuing to elect a new party president, following the death of Hage Geingob on 4 February.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has since been endorsed as Swapo’s presidential candidate in the absence of a congress, sparking constitution violation claims and calls for an extraordinary gathering from a faction within the party.

However, internal Swapo documents shed light on the ruling party’s financial woes and its inability to host an extraordinary congress.

“Holding of an extraordinary congress inevitably requires massive funds, and the party has not budgeted for such a scenario. In fact, it does not have funds to hold an extraordinary congress,” a Swapo politburo report tabled at the central committee meeting in March stated.

The report noted that Swapo spent millions on the 2022 congress and rallies in 2023, organised to introduce Nandi-Ndaitwah as presidential candidate.

“The party will further need considerable funds to hold the electoral college and to undertake election campaign activities across the country. An enormous amount of money is also needed to prepare for the upcoming national elections slated for 27 November,” noted the politburo report.

Swapo now finds itself at a crossroads, grappling with both internal anger and financial constraints, while a legal case from a faction calling for the party to host the extraordinary congress is set to head to court this week.

The faction led by Swapo veterans and represented publicly by Reinhold Shipwikineni, Peter Shituula and Joshua-Vaino Martins, gave Swapo until 5 May to hold an extraordinary congress.

Richard Metcalfe

The faction, legally represented by lawyer Richard Metcalfe, in April wrote a letter demanding that Swapo host an extraordinary congress to replace party president Geingob.

Swapo, however, denied this request.

“Our client denies, in strongest terms, the allegations of illegality contained in your letter,” reads a letter dated 3 May from Swapo’s legal representatives Murorua Kurtz Kasper Inc.

Swapo said it maintains its decision to endorse Nandi-Ndaitwah as its presidential candidate for the 27 November election, while pushing the extraordinary congress to 19 April 2025.


Swapo’s lawyers said the decision made by the central committee to endorse its vice president Nandi-Ndaitwah as Swapo’s presidential candidate on 9 March is irreversible and in accordance with the law.

The lawyers said the decision was deliberately made public for the sake of transparency and referred to a judgement on the interpretation of article 15(9) of Swapo’s constitution.

“We urge you to kindly familiarise yourself therewith, the judgement may be useful to your client and we will certainly assist your clients,” Murorua Kurtz Kasper Inc said.

Swapo lawyers are seemingly using a loophole in the party’s constitution, centred around the terms “called” and “held”.

Swapo politburo member, lawyer Sisa Namandje in March said: “The constitution simply requires the calling of an extraordinary congress by the central committee within a period of three months if the position of president becomes vacant.

“It does not require or direct that both the calling and holding should occur during the same three-month period.”

Shipwikineni said they will take the matter to court before Friday, after Swapo rejected their demands.

“No person is above the law and legally there are no chances of us losing this case,” he said.

Shipwikineni said it is any party member’s constitutional right to demand the fulfilment of the constitution as per article 10.

“We don’t have any beef with Nandi-Ndaitwah, there is no personal hatred,” he said.

Shipwikineni said he understands that court cases may be expensive, but they have been forced to take that step due to the violation of the party’s constitution.

“Today’s leadership doesn’t value us,” he said.

Uahekua Herunga

Swapo’s deputy secretary general Uahekua Herunga has, however, maintained the party’s decision, describing it as right and constitutional.

Herunga said it’s unfair for the Swapo leadership to make a decision through the appropriate platforms and procedures and reverse it simply because some individuals want it.

“There are always two sides to the coin, if we are 90% united, one can not say we are not united.”

Herunga said current squabbles will not in any way affect unity in the party and he denied that any factions exist in Swapo.

“The November elections will prove that we are united,” he said.

Swapo secretary for legal affairs Pohamba Shifeta told The Namibian in March that party members are allowed to exercise their democratic rights, but said going against the decision of the majority as taken by the central committee could lead to a disciplinary hearing.

“If a constituted meeting took place and a decision was taken by the majority, publicly criticising that decision constitutes a violation of the constitution, and you are exposed to disciplinary proceedings. I warn that we cannot tolerate this,” he said.

“This is a serious warning. We are now heading to elections. Making unguided statements without understanding the constitutional provision is undermining the party. We cannot tolerate that,” he added.

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