After losing its grip over the capital’s municipal council, the ruling party might try to work out a coalition with some of its political opponents, which analysts opined will be a difficult task to accomplish.
Opposition parties have wrestled political control of Windhoek, ending Swapo’s control of the country’s economic hub and the seat of government, for the first time since independence. Swapo lost its majority in the Windhoek city council after it only managed to garner five seats out of the 15, in the just-ended local authority elections.
In the past five years, Swapo enjoyed unfettered control over Windhoek with 12 seats in the city council.
The newly formed Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) has won four seats in the council.
The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) and pressure group – the Affirmative Repositioning also won a place at the table with two seats each.
The official opposition, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) have one seat each.
PDM secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe in an internal memo over the weekend directed the party’s incoming councillors, assigned leaders and regional coordinators not to form coalitions with Swapo.
He noted that it will save regional councils and local authorities from the kind of maladministration experienced at the hands of Swapo for the past 30 years.
The leader of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, Job Amupanda, who harbours the ambition to be Windhoek mayor, has promised the city residents that the movement, together ‘’with the progressive forces” will now run the council in a way that benefits the “dejected masses”.
“As there is no political formation (that) secured more than 50 plus one (required majority), it goes without saying that the progressive forces that toppled the corrupt regime would need to consolidate the unity of purpose to form the leadership to stop the suffering of the residents of Windhoek,” Amupanda said in a social media post.
Local analysts have also cast their doubt on the possibility for Swapo to enter into a workable coalition with some of its political opponents.
Speaking to New Era, the constitutional expert, Professor Nico Horn yesterday hailed the inroads of opposition in the Windhoek city council.
“I like the balance. But I suspect that the new parties will find it difficult to form a workable coalition. Most, if not all of them have already indicated that they will not enter in a coalition with Swapo,” Horn said.
“Although both LPM and AR want a new land policy, they did not work together in the run-up to the election. PDM has already made noises of a coalition, none of the other parties reacted in public. The IPC is in the best position to form coalitions given that they have four seats, needing four more for a majority. PDM made it clear that they believe a coalition is a way to go,” Horn added.
He said if Nudo can be persuaded to join the coalition, two more members are needed for a majority in the council.
“But nothing is certain. Swapo can opt to go it alone or attempt to get a coalition together. Since both AR and LPM are children of Swapo, chances are small that they will be willing to form a coalition with Swapo. But as the saying goes, politics make strange bedfellows,” he added.
Political analyst Victor Tonchi also welcomed the changes at the city council, saying that residents may have value for their votes.
Tonchi said this time around, the game will be different at the City of Windhoek, as there has to be a consensus.
“We can look at many matters that could not be dealt with speedily like the appointment of CEOs, some tendering done in bad faith and so on. This time around, residents may have value for their votes as their plight may be actioned speedily,” he said.
He said some of the incoming councillors have a good grasp of local government, unlike past councillors, who could not have an idea about modern cities and how to manage and cater for their needs.
On his part, political analyst Ndumba Kamwanya said it will not be politics as usual and not business as usual and this is what residents are expecting from that balanced council.
“Victory comes with responsibility and I hope that the newcomers will humble themselves and work collectively for a better City of Windhoek instead of petty politics. The balanced outcomes are a message for a non-partisan service- delivery,” he said.
Kamwanya, however, is hopeful that “the combined opposition majority will not be used arrogantly to try to punish the Swapo party. Equally, the governing party should not use its upper hand position in government to revenge against the opposition majority in the council.”