Geographically, the constituency lies in the far eastern part of Gobabis in the Omaheke region. It consists of two communal areas namely, Otjombinde communal area and Eiseb Block.
Otjombinde constituency politics is very dynamics, weathering, complicated and unpredictable. Determining factors for the credible winning candidate is ‘jellish’, therefore, more uncertain to predict for now.
The Namibian constitution provides for various electioneering processes as a vehicle to elect leaders into power, hence, the upcoming regional and local elections scheduled for November 2020. Namibia so far portrayed an excellent record of keeping up with this specific constitutional obligation. As the election process is approaching, a repeat of the 2016 political dynamics is evident. Customary, parties and individual part-take in the election processes. Many perceive the election differently. For some, it is an economic paradise whilst for others is a vehicle for attaining development and community livelihood upliftment process. Thomas Sowell once said, “politics is the art of making one selfish desire seem like the national interest”.
This is expected to be done within the confine of the rule of law as a basic human right – the right to vote is key here. Therefore, timely, unlimited access to information and awareness is critical for everyone to be skilful, knowledgeable and to make correctly informed decisions.
The constituency is not new in shocking political dynamics. Two key dynamism lies in refusing to re-elect a candidate for a second term in office. Secondly, it fielded the first independent candidate who emerged successful during the 2016 election. By voting him, some Swapo members send a clear signal to their top party management that the honest of choosing the party representatives lies primarily with the community than the party’s top management structures.
Having been a resident and participant myself in the campaign, I gained first-hand experience on the constituency political dynamics. My unsuccessful attempt was due to a number of polemic/controversies within the party election process. The diverse views in the party as who should stand and why. Lack of an eagle eye to understand political dynamism, overwhelming favouritism, limited knowledge on using leadership abilities as the yardstick in choosing good leaders.
This brought me to classify the ongoing political campaign process in three stages:
Somehow at party primaries, leadership qualities and abilities, as well as regionalisation, were used as a yardstick for selecting incumbent councillor. Regionalisation is defined as a level within the constituency, where a candidate is associated with his geographical origin. Henceforth, a candidate either must emerge from Otjombinde or Eiseb Block. In addition, a candidature must surface from ‘central to far eastern side’ of Otjombinde communal area or from its central to far western side - locally referred to as ‘Ovandu wo kehi novo kombanda).
Another stage emerged due to a change in voter’s perceptions and approaches. During this stage, support was shifted towards strong comradeship with little to none consideration of leadership qualities. Here forth, most members indicated to strongly support the candidature of their party, no matter what. Party royalty is at stake not leadership and management skills. For parties, with a huge membership base, this could have been a desirable move.
The third stage further deepens the class divisions by extensively shifting away from “political loyalty” towards loyalty to traditional authorities (TAs). Notable is that TAs countrywide are sporadically competing, and the constituency is no exception. There are almost six traditional authorities in Otjombinde constituency. Despite being so many, Ovambanderu Traditional Authority (OTA) and Ovambanderu Traditional Council (OTC) are at the centre of this assessment. Authorities recognition is not central to this script, because all have followers. It appears that each traditional authority wishes to emerge above another, hence, having a representative in the government office.
Analysing comments, discussions and opinions, specifically from ‘Otjombinde Parliament WhatsApp group’ and observations, it is becoming clearer that the support shifted to TAs. Seven political parties and an independent council are competing in the election. Presumably, any of the candidates has linkage in one or another way to a certain TA grouping. Therefore, advancing grouping interests may systematically be possible with the assumption, that, if it so happens, the most competing TAs, the OTC and the OTA, maybe somehow negatively affected. Swapo may feel the trickle-down effect. Hypothetically, the emerging parties in the constituency may benefit from this power struggle, especially those that fielded a certain TA preferred candidate.
It is likely that there might be a slight increase in the total of both voters registered and cast. But, because of the increase in competing parties, a further downwards apportioning of the votes could be experienced. At the top of the table are Swapo, the independent councillor and Swanu. The PDM and IPC will get the minimal votes of all competing parties. Other remaining parties are at the behest of divisions in the major groupings.
Through a microscopic lens, the two competing TAs may further apportion votes among their TA’s preferred candidates. If this assumption is predictable, then Swanu and Nudo may forfeit their top spots. Subsequently, Swapo and the independent councillor may triumph, but the contrary is also true. Politics is that game and that science, and voters are the game-changer.
Conclusively, is that whoever emerges victorious, will not win with a greater margin, because of many factors at play. For example, regionalisation, royalty, relationships, hibernators effects and youth reluctance to voting. Consequently, voter’s tally will be heavily scattered, hence, a smaller winning margin between participants.