As national elections loom - slightly over a month before the nation goes to the polls to decide who is going to lead the country into the next five years - we should, as a nation, ask ourselves a fundamental question: Are we voters or fans of political contestants in the elections? Voting is a sacred right, an obligation of citizenry and the only platform through which a citizen can exercise their political power.
Kickinger defines Fanaticism as an irrational and irregular excessive belief in something.
It involves uncritical and unreasonable zeal, faith and enthusiasm, particularly in religion, cult, culture, entertainment, politics or even with “only” one person.
It has been argued that fanatics mostly demonstrate close-mindedness.
Being a fan of a political participant/contestant is, therefore, casual, similar to football.
Football lovers are fanatics of football teams through thick and thin.
Whether their team is at the bottom of the table or facing relegation, they remain loyal to that team till death.
The danger some Namibians face is that of confusing their sacred right of voting with that of being a fan to a political party or individual during an election.
Fundamentally, a vote to a political party or individual is not supposed to be guaranteed and should, therefore, be earned in an election through clear articulation of policies to be pursued after that election.
Being a fan can be casually apportioned to any political participant based on their personality, charisma, swag, attitude, etc.
Quite frankly, voting means having a say in terms of the direction the country should take in the next five years.
It means deciding that, whichever road the nation takes will be decided by the politician one votes for.
Voters have to be conscious of the fact that reducing their voting right “fanatism” can just as easily take us down the low road - a darker path that grows increasingly dangerous for an economy that is already in a recession.
Imagine a situation where a voter has not read the manifestos of any of the political participants in the next election, and their vote will be based on how a politician dresses, how they walk or how they speak (regardless of what they are talking about). This very same voter, nonetheless, is concerned about the future of the country.
I wouldn’t say they don’t care.
They probably just do not understand what it really means to exercise their right of voting.
It is an imagination for now, but if one goes around and listens to conversations in our public squares regarding the upcoming elections, they will realize that we are a sorry bunch and this imagination is not far from reality.
The country is facing one of the worst droughts most millennials have never seen in their lifetimes, but one will hardly find a group of people – young people especially - deliberating on it, asking hard questions such as: What if it does not rain next summer, and what will happen to the families that are living a daily drama of poverty and the animals living a daily drama of the prevailing drought?
Do we, as a nation, have a plan of, perhaps, exploiting the untapped underground water to water our crops, quench our animals’ thirst and, ultimately, modernize our ways of doing farming, both at a subsistence and commercial level?
If our votes should be earned and we are not mere fanatics of politicians, shouldn’t we be asking questions like: How do we get our economy to grow again without leaving it in the hands of global commodity prices and the turns of fate?
What will happen if it actually floods next summer just after this menacing drought?
Do we have a concrete plan as a nation to re-direct resources from one disaster to another? We wouldn’t ask these questions because we are prophets of doom who only think negatively of our nation and don’t believe in the divine power, we would ask out of the belief that the future belongs to those who plan for it today.
We would ask because we are voters who believe in the capacity of our nation to do better than being caught off guard.
Moreover, we would ask the above questions because we believe that we have the power to shape the destiny of our economy; that climate change is real and the scientific facts are clear; and that we should prepare ourselves for changing rain patterns and, ultimately, the threats to our agricultural sector, which is the back-bone of our economy.
If we, however, admit to be fans of politicians instead of voters, we should gladly leave everything to the turns of fate and accept traditional political campaigns which are mostly characterized by “infotaiment” in the form of sound bites, bizarre rants, personal feuds and outright lies. After all, a good politician has been described by observers of politics to be someone who says what he/she never does, and does what he/she never says.
It is easy for politicians to notice that they are not held to the highest standards during campaigns.
They would much prefer to dedicate three hours to attacking an opponent’s personality instead of articulating what they will do in the next five years if elected.
They would much prefer to spend three hours giving millennials a long lecture of their liberation struggle credentials instead of unpacking a policy that will give the youth a fair shot at life.
They would much prefer to sing songs and dance with the youth for three hours without saying anything substantive as long as their votes are guaranteed.
If we allow all these to happen, we should, in peaceful quiet, ask ourselves a fundamental question: Are we voters or mere fanatics?
2019-11-01 08:21:10 | 21 days ago