SWAPO secretary general Nangolo Mbumba has removed Armas Amukwiyu as chairperson of the ruling party's regional coordinators forum to contain his influence in the regions.
Amukwiyu, the Oshikoto regional coordinator, is credited with spearheading the campaign which handed President Hage Geingob the party's vice presidency at Swapo's 2012 elective congress.
He is now alleged to have created a personal power network in the regions, a move which has caused discomfort amongst party leaders, who are worried about his elevation to kingmaker.
In a letter dated 2 May and addressed to all regional coordinators, Mbumba directed that regional coordinators should stop holding meetings under the auspices of the forum, which has been in existence since 2012.
“The meetings, which are in line with the duties and functions of the secretary general of coordinating and streamlining political and administrative activities of Swapo, have been successful, and I would like to thank you very much for your usual dedication and cooperation,” Mbumba said in the letter copied to President Hage Geingob and deputy secretary general Laura McLeod-Katjirua.
The regional coordinators forum chairpersonship was ostensibly created to, amongst others, secure Geingob's political interests in the regions.
“It was an extension and continuation of the Hage team which won at the 2012 congress,” said a source who declined to be named. Current leaders are said to be worried that Amukwiyu was using the forum to canvass support in the regions.
While Geingob has seemingly distanced himself from Amukwiyu when he ascended to the Presidency, Amukwiyu is reportedly determined to oust him at this year's congress.
Mbumba said forum meetings between the secretary general and regional coordinators had been stopped because they had fulfilled their intended purposes.
“With your assistance, the meetings have been able to mitigate challenges, provide collective leadership and synergy,” he stated, adding that meetings would not be held until new leaders were voted in during upcoming regional conferences.
“Subsequently, the chairmanship, deputy chairmanship and secretariat functions have been dissolved,” he stated.
While the letter had a benign tone, it has become clear to many that the move was aimed at disempowering Amukwiyu, who is said to be running a political campaign against Mbumba and other party leaders.
Mbumba indicated that henceforth, all communication between regional coordinators must flow through his office, as stipulated in the ruling party's constitution.
Mbumba confirmed yesterday that he had put a stop to forum meetings, saying it was done to save on travel expenses.
“The old arrangement is not needed now,” he told The Namibian, adding that he would be meeting with regional coordinators when needed.
He also said regional coordinators would be required to report their regional activities to the central committee from now on.
Mbumba declined to comment on claims about party elders abusing their positions for their own benefit.
He said the forum was not constitutional, and had been an ad hoc entity.
“I'm not going to talk about anybody. Armas is equal, like other regional coordinators. No one is special,” Mbumba said before hanging up.
Efforts to get comment from Amukwiyu were unsuccessful, but sources said he could not really question the decision as his appointment was made verbally by the “Hage team” five years ago.
The move to contain Amukwiyu's ambitions is seen as the latest manoeuvring for top positions ahead of this year's elective congress, which will instal leaders for the next five years.
- Title: Swapo elders clip Amukwiyu's wings
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- Date: 5:17 PM