20 August 2012

Namibia: RDP Suspensions Heading to Court

SHOULD the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) not cancel its recent suspension of three leaders by today, Miriam Hamutenya, Kandy Nehova and Peter Naholo will challenge the decision in court.

In a strongly worded letter - written on Friday and addressed to president Hidipo Hamutenya - Jens Roland, the three's lawyer, says the suspension is "in flagrant disregard of the fundamental principles of fairness". Roland further states that the suspension was not preceded by a "prudent and meticulous" investigation as the party's constitution stipulates.

Moreover, none of the accusations against the three have been proven correct - also a constitutional requirement.

Furthermore, Roland wrote, the three did not receive a fair and adequate hearing and they did not have "an appropriate legal defense"- also in terms of the party constitution.

The three were suspended from all RDP activities last week. Nehova and Naholo, previously members of Parliament, were also recalled from Parliament.

In the letter to Hidipo Hamutenya, the three demand a written undertaking by no later than close of business today that the decision to suspend them and the recalling from Parliament is revoked.

Both Miriam Hamutenya and Nehova yesterday said that they plan to take the matter further should the RDP not comply with the demands.

On Friday, the RDP announced that it will hold a press conference this afternoon. According to vice-president Steve Bezuidenhout, the press conference is intended to shed light on the suspensions. "The suspensions are to create space for a transparent investigation. The suspensions were not done to kick them out."

On Thursday, it was reported that a split in the RDP was expected after the suspension announcement.

The suspension came after what Hidipo Hamutenya called "subversive activities".

Samson Ndeikwila, executive director of the Forum for the Future accused the RDP leadership of employing the same tactics Swapo used in exile to remove members who were considered a threat to the party's leaders.

He said the move was "completely shortsighted" and there was nothing to gain for the RDP.

"Has the RDP learned any lessons from Swapo's extra-ordinary congress of 2004? In which way is RDP as the official opposition showing that it can do things better than the ruling Swapo Party?" Ndeikwila asked in a statement.

Bezuidenhout earlier said if the disciplinary probe was not finalised by September 11 when the National Assembly sessions resume, two new faces could represent the official opposition. Next on the party list are former DTA MP Rudolph Kamburona and Lauraine Weyers.

Hidipo Hamutenya charged that the three leaders had created and encouraged factions and divisions within the RDP. The three are accused of character assassination of fellow RDP members and the unauthorised disclosure of national executive committee (NEC) decisions and the defiance of NEC decisions.

Furthermore, the suspended members are charged with bringing the party into disrepute by distorting NEC decisions and deliberately violating the RDP political programme, its code of conduct and its constitution.

Nehova, Naholo and Miriam Hamutenya are suspected to have been behind the allegedly unruly behaviour of the RDP youth league during recent demonstrations at the Supreme Court and Parliament Gardens. It is alleged that they instructed young party members not to move after the party's leadership decided that they should leave the Parliament Gardens.

Apart from this, there also appears to be unhappiness about the more than N$30 000 paid to Hidipo Hamutenya monthly for renting a part of his house in Olympia as the party's office.

Bezuidenhout however on Friday said that it is just an interim measure and that property has been identified which the party is considering to purchase.

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