Ambitious social justice activist Job Amupanda yesterday announced his intention to contest for the highest office in the land when Namibia heads to the polls in November 2024.
The announcement was made through the unveiling of several billboards in Windhoek and Ondangwa, while several were being put up in the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.
At 36 then, Amupanda will be the youngest presidential candidate if all goes according to plan.
His announcement is part of a bigger scheme, with the Affirmative Repositioning also in the process of registering as a political party with the Electoral Commission of Namibia.
Back in 2020, through a similar approach, Amupanda announced he would contest for the position of Windhoek mayor, although mayors are not directly elected by voters. Many pushed the discussion to the side, as it appeared impossible – until it happened.
New Era understands the political strategist is pinning hopes on the same strategy to pull off one of the greatest election surprises in recent memory.
Amupanda will rely on the youth vote, which makes up over 50% of Namibia’s voting population. “We are simply giving young people an option that one of their own will be on the ballot next year. So, it is up to them to decide. People are saying they are tired of the elders and how they’ve mismanaged the country. We are giving them an alternative. We want young people at universities, in the streets and young professionals to turn up in their numbers and vote. If they do, we will have a president from our own generation. It worked in Zambia. It can work here,” a source close to Amupanda said.
In the coming days, Amupanda will convene a press conference to lay bare why he wants to become the country’s fourth president, people close to the activist confirmed. Preliminary information suggests Amupanda will run as an independent candidate.
This paper sought views from pundits on Amupanda’s potential candidature in 2024.
Political scientist Rui Tyitende described the electoral ground as fertile for various social and political formations to contest for political power. The question, however, is will the opposition pose a serious threat to Swapo’s electoral dominance and reduce it below the 50% threshold?
“The opposition is currently fragmented, and they are not fundamentally different in terms of what they have to offer the people. So, even if Swapo is dysfunctional, the opposition needs to earn the right to govern. There is a huge market of young voters that opposition parties have failed to tap into,” Tyitende said.
It is also his view that the AR leader will be joining a saturated political market of opposition parties attempting to dislodge Swapo from power. If the current political dynamics are anything to go by, Amupanda’s presidential ambition is too ambitious, Tyitende said.
“Remember, the success of opposition parties in previous national and regional and local authority elections has little to do with their policy competence or ideological appeal, but everything to do with the ruling party’s incompetence and inability to deliver on the material conditions of the most vulnerable in society.
“With so many options for the electorate, is there a definite political choice? The electorate will be asking, what possible call to my support are they making?” the analyst pondered.
Judging from the ‘expensive billboards’, Amupanda is seriously considering running for presidency, another political commentator, Ndumba Kamwanyah said.
Kamwanyah also believes AR and Amupanda could be testing the political waters with the announcement. “Remember, it was a similar approach of pre-announcement before ran and became the mayor of Windhoek. We will have to wait and see as we learn more whether he is serious or not. He has two options, either he forms a party, which I think is likely, or he runs as an independent candidate. Either way, it certainly will add a dynamic of different kinds to the country’s political landscape,” Kamwanyah said. Like Tyitende, Kamwanyah said the 2024 presidential election will be an overcrowded field. In his eyes, the more opposition candidates there are, the better the chances Swapo stands to remain in power, “because there is a likelihood that the opposition candidates will split opposition votes among themselves”.
“Two, his entrance in the race means it’s going to be competitive in terms of urban and youth vote because parties like the Independent Patriots for Change, Landless People’s Movement and Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters seem to have a stable following in those categories of voters,” he assessed the room. - firstname.lastname@example.org