THE political road of Dr. Panduleni Itula under the banner of the Swapo Party has come to an end after he was expelled by the Politburo on the same day that the party president announced the top three office bearers for next term in office.
At its meeting on 19 March 2020 the Swapo Party Politburo resolved to expel the former Swapo Party Youth League leader and the man who stood as an independent presidential candidate in the Presidential and National Assembly elections at the end of November 2019 with immediate effect. The politburo took the drastic step in terms of Article 13 (8) of the party’s constitution.
Dr. Itula, who has been a SWAPO member since 1971, declared his intentions to run for the presidency in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly election as an independent candidate. He since received several threats of expulsion from SWAPO. In these threats the ruling party cautioned Dr. Itula that they already fielded a candidate for president at its heavily contested elective congress in 2017.
Dr. Itula, however, downplayed the warnings, citing that the ruling party at that moment did not have a legitimate candidate for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, as it has violated the constitution in the events leading up to the congress in 2017. He further stated that the party does not have a legitimate disciplinary structure to hold members accountable for violating the constitution. He maintained that he would not resign from the party despite the threats of expulsion.
In January 2019 Itula called for the resignation of the SWAPO Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, while claiming that she was “not fit for the job”.
The Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) and the Republican Party (RP), both without a realistic chance in the previous election, withdrew their presidential candidates in early November and instead endorsed Itula.
In a letter signed by the Swapo Party’s Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, she states that at all relevant and material times prior to Dr. Itula registering himself as an independent candidate in respect of the 27 November 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections that he was aware that Dr. Hage Geingob, the party’s president became the party’s only candidate following his election during the ordinary congress.
In a long letter signed by the Swapo Party’s Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, the party stated that at all relevant and material times prior to Dr Itula registering himself as an independent candidate in respect of the 27 November 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, that he was aware that Hage Geingob, the party’s president, became the party’s only candidate following his election during the ordinary congress.
“All party members, including yourself, were under an obligation to observe and comply with the decisions, resolutions and directives of the majority, even when such members hold a diverging opinion as per the Party Constitution,” Shaningwa said, adding that following Dr Itula’s registration as an independent Presidential candidate, he embarked on an election campaign where he in some cases shared a platform with members of the opposition political parties who are manifestly working against the interests of the Party and its Presidential candidate.
Shangingwa claims that Dr Itula gave an impression that he supports opposition political parties against the interests of the Swapo party.
“This conclusion is supported by the fact that some of those opposition political parties endorsed your candidature. This is contrary to […] the Party’s code of Conduct,” she said.
The Secretary General added that it is common cause that Dr Itula made several public appearances and addressed rallies where he did not only impugn the integrity of the Party leadership and its Presidential candidate, but also attacked the Party itself and shared the platform with individuals that pertinently called on his supporters to vote for him as an independent Presidential candidate as opposed to Geingob, and to vote for opposition political parties in respect of the National Assembly elections.
He is also accused of involving himself in various negative activities against the Party in a manner inconsistent with his obligations as a member.
Shaningwa say this is in clear violation of the party constitution as it causes division and destroys and weakens the Party, while at the same time damaging its electoral fortunes and that of its Presidential candidate.
“You continued with your disruptive behaviour by refusing to accept the communication from the Party aimed at giving you a fair hearing. By virtue of your disruptive conduct, you are deemed to have been found guilty of misconduct as charged, Shaningwa wrote, adding that Dr Itula was on more than one occasion afforded an opportunity to be heard.
“By virtue of your disruptive behaviour of refusing to accept documents from the Party, you have waived your rights to be heard and to a fair hearing,” she noted.
“In view of the nature, extent and seriousness of your conduct, and which conduct continued after the elections, the Politburo has resolved that the relationship between you and the Swapo Party has irretrievably broken down, and that it is left with no option but to expel you as a member of the Party in terms of Article 13(8) of the Party constitution in order to prevent any further harm to the Party’s interests,” Shaningwa continued.
Accordingly, she further noted, by virtue of his expulsion, Dr Itula has ceased to be a member of the Party.
“Should you persist in your conduct and thereby harming the interests of the Party and its rank and file, the party reserves a right to take prompt and adequate legal action against you,” Shaningwa warned Dr Itula.
Dr Itula was informed that while his expulsion from the Party comes into effect immediately, he has the right to appeal in writing to the central committee within 14 days of receipt.