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The Swapo party disciplinary committee

By Paul T. Shipale
With the adoption of a Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures and the establishment of a Disciplinary Committee, the SWAPO Party is moving in the right direction to curb indiscipline, factionalism, favouritism and all other evils that have threatened to tear the Party apart.

In the recently concluded Politburo meeting, the party appointed former Secretary General and current adviser to the Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Ngarikutuke Tjiriange as the Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee deputized by Veteran politician and former Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Libertine Amathila and other additional members, among them, the current Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, the Deputy Minister of Justice Tommy Nambahu and Connie Pandeni, a member of the affiliate organ, the NUNW.

Indeed, well established and functioning institution has rules and procedures to help govern the behaviors and actionsof its members. These rules and procedures basically constitute a binding contract between an institution and its members, as they lay out reciprocal rights and obligations between the two parties to the contract.

Thus, a disciplinary code of conduct not only helps an institution to create a conducive environment but also to take disciplinary action against its members with a view to instill disciplinein the party. This also means, the disciplinary action taken must be consistent and the penalty imposed should match with the transgression and take into account the mitigating factors.

Above all, these rules are not there to instill fear and intimidation or to humiliate and embarrass its members but to put things into perspectiveand address the shortcomings that may arise from the members.That is why before drastic measures are taken, warning and reasonable time are given in which a member is allowed to improve his or her conduct.

Most importantly, these rules are not meant to stifle debates, criticism and self-criticism as the party clearly reaffirms its democratic culture and does not believe any of its members is beyond reproach. Therefore, constructive criticism is encouraged as well as the principles of democratic centralism and collective leadership. In fact, rule number 15 clearly states that the objective of the code of conduct is to instill discipline as a weapon of the struggle and transformation but not as a means of stifling debate or denying party members their basic rights or as a means of interfering in their private lives.

Among the activities constituting misconduct are failure to comply with the provision of the code; sowing racism, tribalism, regionalism etc; causing division or a break-down of party unity including through factionalism, influencing or manipulating the outcome of a conference or election, willful default in carrying out any lawful order or disobeying an instruction given; accepting bribes; gross abuse of authority, etc.

In all cases before possible action is taken, the audi alteram partem rule is applied and the members may seek redress of the grievance including through appeals against the findings of the DC.Comparatively speaking, the adopted Code of Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures which talks about the Disciplinary Committee is similar to the ANC's National Disciplinary Committee (NDC), which, on the Disciplinary hearings of Julius Malema and other ANCYL leaders, on the 29 February 2012, found the former ANCYL leader Julius Malema and his co-accused guilty for breaking the ANC code of conduct and resolved that as a voluntary organisation, the ANC has the power to regulate its internal affairs in terms of its Constitution, including the right to refuse membership, and to suspend or expel any of its members.

In deciding an appropriate sanction, the NDC said that it took into consideration the following factors:- The seriousness of the offence; The presence of aggravating factors; Any previous findings against the respondents;The presence of mitigating factors; The concept of a graduated approach to sanctioning; The concept that the sanction must take into consideration the interests of the ANC, the respondents and society at large; andThe seriousness of the offence, etc.

The cumulative effect of past and present offences, coupled with evidence of lack of remorse and disrespect for the ANC Constitution and its structures, particularly the NDCA, has left no room for the NDC to consider Malema's misconduct as anything but extremely serious.Having weighed and considered all factors, the NDC therefore suspended and expelled Malema from the ANC. Consequently, he was told to vacate his position as President of the ANC Youth League.

In our case, the December 6- 22, 1991 Constitution of the SWAPO Party as amended by the SWAPO Party Extra-ordinary Congress that took place on the 27-28 August 1998, stipulates in Chapter 2, Article 4, A (4) (a) and (b) that membership in SWAPO Party may be lost through resignation, or expulsion under Articles 6 (13) and 7 (10)by two-thirds majority of the Central Committee for serious misconduct or violation of the Constitution.

One presumes that the violation of the Constitution or serious misconduct which warrant such suspension or expulsion refers to the non adherence of the aims and objectives of the party as set out in Article 3 B of the party's constitution such as to unite the people of Namibia irrespective of race, religion, sex or ethnic origin and to combat retrogressive tendencies of tribalism, ethnicity, nepotism, racism, sexism, chauvinism, regionalism, personality cult as well as to fight underdevelopment, poverty, illiteracy and disease and promote accelerated economic development and the upliftment of the standard of living of the vast majority of the Namibian people.

Looking at these objectives, is hard to imagine that one could be punished for fighting against 'factionalism and to promote and exercise criticism without fear with a view to overcoming defects, errors or deviations in the party', as the party's constitution's requires.In hindsight, the decision by the Central Committee that required the SPYL to explain its position and apologise for the utterances of its NEC's membersis a fair and balanced one given that others were not punished for their utterances.

Nevertheless, I insist that Party's cadres should not annihilate one another for a political office nor guard coteries of friendships founded on selfprotection but be grounded in the ideological perspectives of the Party. Once these perceptions permeate the party and spread in society, resistance of an unprecedented proportion emerges and the seed of political arrogance and indolence, snobbery and egocentricity germinates and spreads like an infectious disease throughout the structures and the country. As a result, some members turn themselves into political felons unconcerned about the interests of the country. More important to them are subjective interests. Using bullying tactics, they create fears in the minds of those people who do not support their views because they failed to sway members to their side and cannot find any meaningful argument to authenticate their views.

To avoid this from happening in the future, members must always arm themselves with thenewly adopted SWAPO Party's code of conduct in order to ensure the implementation of the vision and programme of the party. In the final analysis, the party's Constitution requires members to observe discipline and behave honestly to ensure that the party remains a credible force in society.For this to happen there must be unity and a unifying leadership through persuasion.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper and are not in any way connected to my position but merely reflect my personal opinion as a citizen.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura