It is safe to say the recently held regional council and local authority elections have ushered in a new era. Namibians everywhere are still making sense of elections results that could set the tones for the future of politics in Namibia.
There are many lessons here, but perhaps what the conversation should be centred around is what we want the future of Namibia to look like.
Across Africa, former liberation movements are seeing a decline in support. This decline was predicted by academic and South African struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele.
In her 2012 book, Conversations with My Sons and Daughters, she writes: “There is a sense of entitlement in the assertion that those who sacrificed their youth to the armed struggle have a right to lead and govern. This sense of entitlement introduces a real dilemma in that those who fought hard for freedom and who feel strongly that they should enjoy the spoils of being in government do not necessarily have the capacity to govern. The right to govern a modern, sophisticated socio-economic and political system has to be balanced with the right of citizens to be governed competently.”
In the run-up to the elections, Namibians expressed a hunger for improved service delivery. There is no doubt that at the polls, the people sent a message to politicians everywhere that accountability matters.
The people know their power, and where service lacks, they are willing and able to hold those in public office to account through the cross on a ballot paper.
The year also saw a number of protests, particularly those of young Namibians who took to the streets demanding the legalisation of abortion, as well as the #ShutItAllDown march.
The people have also realised that protest is a legitimate form of political participation.
What is happening in Namibia right now can be described as a political awakening championed and led by young Namibians. What the future will look like is visibly dependent on politicians’ willingness to listen and engage young Namibians.
By 2024 young Namibians will be the biggest voting demographic, and this demographic has shown to not have the kind of party loyalty which impacted voting trends in the past.
Creating a Namibia where every Namibian feels part of the Namibian house requires politicians to stop speaking to people from a place of power and privilege. It is time we acknowledge the fact that we are all Namibians and that we need to speak to each other and not at each other.
Building a Namibia where everyone has a sense of belonging requires young people’s energy, old people’s wisdom and politicians to demonstrate a bi-partisan desire to deliver on promises to the people.