Rundu — Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) leader in Kavango East Paulus Mbangu has resigned from the party in order to contest next month's regional council elections as an independent candidate. Mbangu will stand as candidate for Rundu Rural constituency where he is expected to lock horns with, among others, the incumbent Swapo councillor Michael Shikongo.
Mbangu served the ruling party in various capacities since 1997, including serving as SPYL labour secretary and member of the national executive committee between 2012 and 2017.
"I have been proud to serve Swapo party from the section, branch, regional and national level. It is with great gratitude and bitter sorrow that I must resign from the party in order to contest as an independent candidate in Rundu Rural constituency," he said.
About a month ago, the ruling Swapo formalised closing the independent candidacy loophole. The amendments to the party's constitution bar any of its members from standing as independent candidates or a representative of an association for presidential, regional council, local authority or any other election.
Mbangu saw it fit to resign from the party in order to contest freely.
"I made the decision in order to save the party from embarrassment as voters have lost confidence in the incumbent Swapo party councillor who served in that position for 16 years and counting," he added.
Mbangu noted that he had no intentions of joining the opposition. "Swapo party has been my political home from childhood and I strongly believe that it has no equal in Namibia. Unfortunately the political quagmire in our constituency left me no choice but to respond to the call of the masses," he said.
"Maybe what is not widely known is that the incumbent councillor's legacy in the constituency is an embarrassment. If a review of the just ended conference which elected him is made it will be discovered that delegates were handpicked and party cadres in structures were sidelined."
In response, Shikongo said those were just mere accusations being made by Mbangu. "The delegates were picked based on the instruction from the Swapo head office - the same instructions were used in all districts across that country. If he says he is a Swapo member then he knows how things work, I have no control of such things. I didn't hand-pick delegates," said Shikongo, before adding: "He is not a threat, not at all."