Namibia's RDP party faces leadership crisis

2015-03-02 05:00
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Windhoek - Namibia's main opposition party will not accommodate the sudden mind change of their president who now wants to cling to power, despite announcing his retirement a fortnight

The secretary general of the Rally for Democracy and Progress party, Mike Kavekotora said Sunday: "In mid-February Hidipo Hamutenya, president of the RDP party officially announced his retirement from active politics and thus of his position as president during the central committee meeting and this was accepted.

"During our extra-ordinary national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday we confirmed that RDP vice president Steve Bezuidenhout will be acting party president from 1 March until our extra-ordinary party convention."

National elections

Hamutenya, 74, who told the party he would retire end of February, suddenly sent a letter to Kavekotora on Friday, stating he had been pushed to announce his retirement.

Hamutenya wrote in the letter: "I was pushed by a fraction of the [RDP] leadership, which has for the past months declared a crusade against me for allegedly having caused the poor performance of RDP in the recently held national elections."

"These comrades persistently coerced me under duress to announce when I exactly would retire as party president, which I eventually did against my conscience and against my human rights."

Hamutenya stated in the letter that 15 months ago he was democratically re-elected as RDP president in November 2013 for another five years.

"I would therefore need to inform you in unambiguous terms that I am not going anywhere until myself, without any due pressure, will announce my retirement when the right time arrives."

According to Kavekotora, he had since last December said during three different RDP leadership meetings he would retire.

Kavekotora said Sunday: "We had requested him to give us a date as such process in a political party must be managed, like announcing who would be acting RDP president until a new one is elected."

Asked if the RDP faced a possible split, as some members loyal to Hamutenya might be dissatisfied with the current situation, the secretary general said this could be the case.

Politburo

"We are aware that this might happen but the RDP party is bigger than an individual member," he said.

Last year ordinary members and factions of the party's leadership complained that Hamutenya was losing his grip on the party.

The RDP fared badly in parliamentary elections last November, losing five of its eight seats.

Hamutenya was originally a member of the ruling Swapo party until 2007, when he formed RDP.

He was influential during Swapo's liberation struggle and member of its central committee and politburo from 1976 until 2007.

Read more on:    namibia  |  southern africa  |  politics

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