15 May 2019

Namibia: 'I Was Never a Swapo Member' ... Immanuel Challenges Ruling Party for Proof

THE independent candidate for the Ondangwa Urban constituency, Angelina Immanuel, has refuted claims that she is a Swapo member.

Immanuel told The Namibian yesterday that she does not have to explain to Swapo why she is running for the position.

The 27-year-old also challenged those claiming that she was a member of the ruling party to provide proof of that.

She was responding to allegations by prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila when she addressed a Swapo rally at Ondangwa on Saturday.

Although Kuugongelwa-Amadhila did not mention any names in her statement, Immanuel is the only independent candidate vying for the position.

Immanuel declared her interest in the councillor's position vacated by new Oshana governor, Elia Irimari, last month.

She is standing against Swapo's Leonard Negonga, Johannes Martin of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Asser Vincent of the All People's Party, and Mandume Andreas of the Congress of Democrats.

The Ondangwa by-election is scheduled for 15 June 2019.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila claimed that some Swapo members were pretending to be independent candidates while campaigning under the party's colours.

The prime minister told party members not to defect from the party in support of such independent candidates.

She further said those challenging the party's chosen candidate, Negonga, were in violation of Swapo's constitution, and that they have already expelled themselves from the party.

When asked to clarify her statement on Monday, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said she did not attack the independent candidate, but rather just warned and reminded Swapo members of the party's election rules and procedures.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila added that she was not against a female candidate or the youth in general, but was only campaigning for the candidate her party had chosen for the position.

"Mobilisation of members to throw their support behind their own party's candidate is a normal way of campaigning all over the world, including in our country. The constitution of the party urges party members to advance the party's objectives, which include mobilising the public to rally behind the party, and supporting the party through voting for it," she said.

Besides, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the party's constitution also precludes party members from contesting against the party in elections.

"These are policies of the party. It cannot be an attack on anyone to draw the attention of Swapo members to them," she said.

Immanuel denied that she has been using Swapo colours in her campaign. She also said the only relationship she had with the ruling party was that she was a Swapo sympathiser, and that this changed because "they failed to deliver on their promises of development".

"If anything, they have been telling people that I was a PDM member. I am challenging for the position because they have not implemented any developmental programme in this town," she stressed.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said in an interview with The Namibian that the ruling party's response to the challenge by Immanuel clearly shows that it was moved. He said the Ondangwa by-election could open doors for more Namibians to challenge for public office as independent candidates in the upcoming national elections later this year.

"There is a little bit of fear within the ruling party at the moment, taking into consideration the amount of energy and resources they are investing in this by-election to campaign for their candidate and condemn the independent candidate.

"You can see how the ruling party is concerned about that, judging from how many Swapo surrogates are going at her on social media trying to name-call her, talk about her child, and all other things they are bringing up against her," he added.

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