The Namibian (Windhoek)

Namibia: Swapo Starts With Grootfontein Probe

THE Swapo Party leadership has dispatched a five-member team to investigate allegations of irregularities at the last district conference of Grootfontein in the Otjozondjupa Region. The team consists of Deputy Minister of Defence Lempy Lucas, Karas governor Bernadus 'Clinton' Swartbooi, Namibian National Teachers' Union general secretary Basilius Haingura and Members of Parliament Elifas Dingara and Sylvia Makgone.

Alleged bribery and manipulations led to the nullification of the outcome of the conference earlier this year.

According to well-placed sources, the investigation will focus on allegations that some Swapo members at district level were issued with questionable membership cards.

Swapo Party secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana could not confirm or deny whether there was such a probe, saying if there was something she wanted to tell the public about, she would have called a media briefing.

"There is nothing to say about that. There is nothing for public consumption," she said.

The source said about 170 questionable cards were confiscated while there is talk that some members are said to have registered ghost cards and used branches that do not exist.

The investigation started yesterday and was set to be completed by today.

About 140 people were supposed to be questioned. The Namibian was reliably informed that some ruling party members were reluctant to be questioned because they feared that it could lead to prosecution.

As a result of such allegations, earlier this year, the regional executive committee launched an investigation and recommended the suspension of Elizabeth Kuume, the Swapo district coordinator at Grootfontein.

Kuume is allegedly regarded as a supporter of Iivula-Ithana, who is vying for the party vice-presidency against Hage Geingob and yet-to-be-nominated Jerry Ekandjo at the party congress later this year.

The Swapo Party constitution states that ten delegates elected from each of the regional executive committees by the regional conferences will attend the congress scheduled for December.

Three delegates elected from each of the district executive committees by the district conferences will also form part of the members that will choose the new leadership.

Swapo also nullified the outcome of the Omusati regional conference because of allegations of irregularities, while the Oshikoto Region had to repeat their conference after alleged non-adherence to party procedures.

At Okahandja the claim was that membership cards, which were collected by the district executive for verification, were not returned to some members to deliberately exclude them from participating in the district conference.

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