In my personal view, as a child raised in the crucible of the liberation struggle and having the party at heart, I think the time has come to be honest to our leaders and let them know that all is not well on the ground. The writings have been on the wall for quite some time now but have been brought clearer to the fore during the recently held by-election for Ondangwa Urban Constituency. Whilst obviously expecting Swapo to win convincingly, I think many, including myself, did not expect Swapo to lose so much ground as compared to the previous election in the same constituency.
The potentially declining faith and confidence in the Swapo Party, analyzed from the fall of receiving 92 percent in the Ondangwa Urban Constituency in 2015 to 51 percent of votes in 2019, has been coming for quite some time and is influenced by various factors. Some of those are ideological, political, perception, economic, social and generational factors; to mention but a few.
Whereas Swapo was known to be a socialist party that had people’s interests at heart, the Swapo of today is perceived to be not clear on its ideology and of not having the interest of people at heart. It is the same perception that makes people think that either the party or its members are corrupt, and there seems not much the party is doing to address these perceptions. All perceptions must be managed, and if not, these perceptions become reality in people’s minds and hearts.
Politically, here I would be the first to indicate that it is not easy to keep people together and united. However, I think the party of late has been doing more to alienate its genuine members and in the process accommodate those that might not even be true Swapo, to put it bluntly. It would hence be safe to say Swapo has been welcoming opportunists, charlatans, those who had previously waivered, and sheep in wolves’ clothes in order to be perceived to be accommodating and open to all. In my view, that is a contributory factor to the loss of faith in our party of nowadays and should be addressed soonest.
The socio-economic reality is also one of the dominant factors leading to a perception that our party is not serious with how it conducts its business and runs the affairs of the country. The very high inequality, the potentially explosive unemployment situation in the country, and the prevalent poverty amongst our midst is not an encouraging sign that all is well. Rather, it creates anxiety that doom looms just around the corner and this is never good for hope in the ruling party. Again, there is also a perception that only few benefit, that only the rich get richer whilst the poor get poorer without any hope of change in sight.
Furthermore, one of the greatest challenges that the party needs to deal with is the generational challenge. Namibia is now independent for a good thirty years and much has changed since then. Whilst at the beginning many people were being catered for by the system, we now have a challenge whereby the youth, upon graduation, etc., face the reality that there are actually no jobs or opportunities for them.
Naturally, such a situation creates room for people to become restless because their basic needs are not met. That also explains why people look at alternatives to parties, where, for example in the Ondangwa Urban election, an independent candidate received about three times more votes than all opposition parties put together. That is a sign that the next generation might clearly lose interest in any party and this creates the rife situation where Namibia might even, sooner rather than later, have a president who entered as an independent candidate instead of through a party system.
The solution for the party, in my view, is to do serious introspection and learn that not everybody who disagrees or has an alternative view to the powers that be, is an enemy; and also, not everybody that always agrees with the powers that be, is necessarily honest and good for the party. If the party is to survive and remain relevant, they would do well to be inclusive to all genuine members regardless of difference in opinions about matters. Unity and a clear ideology going forward is crucial to get right, if we fail that, then the party will sooner, rather than later, find itself voted out of power and wonder what happened. By that time the opportunists that the party seems to love so much, will be nowhere to be found. Therefore, the time to be honest to our leaders, and for them to listen, is now.
• Iipumbu Sakaria is a product of the liberation struggle and writes in his personal capacity as a Namibian citizen.
2019-06-21 10:14:18 3 months ago