Amid a flurry of revelations that all is not well in the City of Windhoek’s ruling coalition, analysts have urged the parties to focus on service delivery.
Lawyer Silas Kishi Shakumu, who specialises in local and regional government law, has emphasised the need for elected councillors to see beyond petty politicking and focus on service delivery.
Sharing coalition best practices, Shakumu believes the frustration of political opponents should never be the agenda of any coalition at any level of governance.
“They must focus on service delivery because they will stand or fall by their results,” he stated.
Senior political lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam) Victor Tonchi said “unfortunately, political parties the world over share the political beliefs of assuming political power, with no intention to share it.
The need to be seen as the governing party, and the different approaches to a developmental agenda will always lead to the demise of a coalition.”
Tonchi observed that while the phenomenon is new in Namibia, there are no legal requirements for it.
“But for purposes of effecting and implementing a political agenda, political parties at local level may be compelled to form coalitions. Currently, the political landscape has changed in Namibia, where several party formations have sprung up. At face value, one would assume that these political formations would not have difficulties in engaging in such alliances as the majority of them share the same origins. They are mostly offshoots of Swapo. They may differ in political strategies, but have common values,” he added.
Last Friday, the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) said it is not part of any coalition as from 30 June 2021 as none of the parties and associations signed the coalition agreement that the IPC signed in May 2021.
The IPC also temporarily suspended their councillors from all council activities for a week after some admitted responsibility alongside the apology offered by mayor Job Amupanda last Thursday. The leadership of the party castigated its councillors, and said they “erred in their judgement”.
This followed the demolition of about 50 shacks in the Tobias Hainyeko constituency last Wednesday.
The Windhoek coalition, which defeated Swapo, with five seats, was formed between the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) with two seats, the IPC with four seats, and the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), which won one seat each.
However, no official agreement was ever signed between the parties.
Shakumu said a coalition in itself is not an arrangement springing from the Act, but an external grouping of successfully elected members to the council, united for a common purpose.
“Whether a coalition will succeed depends on various factors. The point of departure is the origin of our local authorities,” he reasoned, adding that municipalities are creatures of statute.
“They were created by an Act of parliament, in which their powers, duties and functions are defined,” he noted.
He said most of these functions are very basic, and the systems to realise them are already in place.
“Most of these systems can and have functioned without politicians. Politicians are needed for strategic and regulatory functions. For that reason, you need a team of abled and knowledgeable people,” he continued.
For that reason, one would need a team of abled and knowledgeable people.
“For a coalition-led council to function and yield results, their political vision and national agenda need to be well-aligned,” he said.
This applies to their priorities and the urge to achieve the desired results.
“A great degree of adjustment in political programmes would be required in order to align their respective objectives and priorities,” Shakumu stated.
He said the current public anger, claims of tribal isolation and neglect in Namibia is a result of ignorance and blame-politics.
“All the towns in Namibia are afforded equal opportunities, and are given the same amount of support. Every town has always been governed by councillors from that specific town, elected by the residents of that town,” he added.
He said staff members (with diplomas and degrees) are hired and managed by the specific councils, to the exclusion of the urban and rural development ministry.
However, when a town fails, all blame goes to the government, and at times to specific tribes who have nothing to do with the situation at hand.
“Poor service delivery is a result of the incompetence of party coordinators, weak councillors and stagnant executives who could not guide their political office- bearers,” he stressed.