Seven months to the polls and it is quiet and tranquil. Normally when elections approach, Namibia’s political environment is abuzz with activity.
Political parties come to life and party manifestos are dusted off and realigned to accommodate new situations; new realities. The mood in the country becomes one of a divided city with inter and intra-party pockets of tensions and this character would prevail until after the election results are certified.
Then the winners adopt statesmanship style of being there for all and the losers pose as good losers as some wear cosmetic smiles during the exchange of compliments. Then it is time to retreat to the village, for those who won to enjoy endless celebrations and those who lost to leak wounds until only the scars are left.
And Namibia’s business of state would come to a virtual halt until mid-February of the ensuing year, when we start preparing for the independence celebrations to inaugurate a new government with new ministers and all.
In all fairness, Namibia has held successive elections for the better part of close to three decades and not one time have we reported broken bones and election-related funerals. We have held peaceful elections, albeit characterized by subtle contestations of the results or of elements of the process.
This experience, needless to say, resembles a wonderful foundation for any home.
When we approach elections I am always reminded of late Kuiri Kahorongo’s soccer program on Otjiherero service of the then South West Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SWABC). The program was titled: “Okatanga Komuinjo; Ovira oovine” (This is soccer; which teams will prevail).
Indeed this is the question on many minds these days: which are the political parties this time around and who will prevail.
From some of the fireside chats, Simon se Gat and Herero Mall political conversations I have been privy to, there are three political developments that enjoy attention and seem to attract broad curiosity. One is the (much earlier) arrival of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and its thrust towards political inroads and potential popularity.
Ever since its reorganisation and launch, the leadership of the party has left no stone unturned and has fielded its personnel and resources as if it was in an election year.
And the party’s decision to move its operational headquarters to the north of the country has been a new development that left many observers at least curious about this departure from the norm, since all institutions of this country prefer to operate from Windhoek. The PDM’s posture seems to have stabilised a professional sub-culture in political organisation. But the party’s historical origin seems to suggest a political “na-smaak” of this hitherto revisionist-cum-reactionary political trend that in the past was associated with the thrust of the oppressive South African Apartheid regime in Namibia.
Still, this view seems to be held by some of the traditional political observers and they seem to remain few and far between. It has not featured much prominently in the arena of public interaction and the youth, most of whom are born-frees, seem to observe such negative views towards the PDM with a grain of salt.
The other development is the Landless People’s Movement (LPM). This is the latest entrant to Namibia’s political arena and seems to be the most radical on balance of probabilities at this stage, on Namibia’s political landscape. The agenda of LPM is one of land, both metropolitan and ancestral land, with bias towards latter.
The LPM has since its inception been hard at work travelling throughout the country and reaching out to some countries in the Southern African region and internationally, to garner sympathy and support. And as a new party, it remains to be seen to what extent it will broaden the base for support fast enough to attract votes that will enable the party to make a mark on parliamentary politics.
The latest development is not a new political party, but a new political leader: For the first time in the history of Namibia, the National Unity Democratic Organization (Nudo) has elected to the party’s highest office a woman, in the person of Esther Muinjangue. Muinjangue emerged as Nudo president and this serves as a landmark experience for Namibia, much to the surprise of many skeptics who never entertained the possibility of a woman president.
On the ruling party Swapo, the first and prominent reality is that Swapo, like a ruling party in many countries, enjoys the latitude to state power and can dictate the direction and pace of the political agenda towards the elections.
This enables the party to also, like all others, prepare for the coming elections that promises to be much different from all previous elections in more ways than one. The difficulty is that unlike in the past, the integrity of the current president of the party and Head of State is currently subtly contested and there are intimations that he could be challenged as presidential candidate for the party as the party moves towards the national and presidential elections.
And, seemingly, old hatchets are not buried yet. This is so much so that there are suggestions that some of the party principals are nourishing the appetite for independent candidates for the party’s presidency. Again, only time will tell as all in the country hold their breath over what could possibly happen in the ruling party, which in these circumstances remains the stage-setter for the thrust towards electioneering politics.
2019-04-17 10:09:07 4 days ago