With the internal party process to elect candidates for the 2024 national elections in full swing, political parties need to do some real and serious soul-searching and have honest conversations.
As I pen this article, social media is abuzz with campaign messages from candidates trying to inveigle their comrades for support to serve on the elite structures of various parties.
They are proffering their credentials to others; some of the credentials being presented are legit, while others are mendacious.
During this campaign period, brown envelopes to buy votes or tarnish opponents’ characters cannot be ruled out.
Some candidates are going to the extent of being regular visitors to witch doctors for cleansing or prophets for holy water.
There is no doubt that over the past elections, the parliamentary list of political parties contained some inept and uncompromising candidates who ended up as legislatures.
Namibians are at crossroads and need erudite political candidates who will debate policies regarding economic and social challenges – and not those who act as loudspeakers during the congress or those who point their fists or two fingers very high up but end up dormant in parliament. Thus, political parties should not be wheedled by candidates who are masters at sloganeering but empty at delivering once given the positions.
All the political parties’ roles in the political space should extend beyond competing in elections but put the electorate’s challenges highest on their political agendas by fielding candidates with the right attributes who will affect changes in citizens’ lives.
Political parties had either to adapt to the plight of ordinary citizens or lose relevance in society.
As much as Namibia is a signee to many international conventions, which include gender equality, political parties must not be blinded when implementing that policy but use it as a secondary yardstick to field candidates who will be able to juxtapose against issues confronting Namibians daily.
Hence, gender consideration should be based on knowledge, meritocracy and ideological alignment. Those to qualify for the zebra-styled list should possess the attributes emphasised above.
These men or women should be able to engage in critical debates to address issues around corruption, land, affordable housing, unemployment, the youth and the mushrooming informal settlements.
Political parties need to think long and conscientiously about whom they field to serve in the crucial positions and structures of their parties but not any Paul and Paula.
Like many pundits have indicated, Namibia needs candidates with integrity and competency – not those who are self-serving or egoistic, those who are only attached to the masses during campaigns but detach themselves once elected.
They need to elect stronger and competent candidates who are fit for purpose and not career politicians – candidates who are able to deliberate on policies that affect the bread and butter issues.
They need candidates who will be able to shape the country’s programmes.
Most of the candidates who vie for positions seem to be obsessed with positions and prestige – and not the real interest of serving the electorate.
The time is now, and the 2024 national elections will be the defining factor, depending on which way the electorate sees it.
Electorates do not need politicians who are driven by power, glory and greed, using their candidacy as a ticket to stardom.
They do not need candidates who crave to be called honourable when they are not able to perform any honourable task.
Electorates do not need candidates who are just charismatic and can articulate well but do not have any substance in their promises.
Congruent with other commentators, leading candidates (presidential) of each political party must be scrutinised holistically in terms of their integrity, character (to navigate through challenges), autonomy (not to be schemed by external forces or influence) and must be able to set a clear vision and not the rhetoric past promises. He or she must be emotionally stable, inclusive, service-oriented, a paragon of morality, competent, extravert-assertive, more deliberate-conscientious and open but also someone who is non-tribalist, who will implement the slogan, ‘One Namibia, One Nation’ without any contradictions.
It should be someone who will tackle the skyrocketing unemployment levels, the high cost of living, escalating oil and food prices, and the jittery economy head-on without shifting the blame to external forces or becoming defensive when citizens ask questions.
Fielding corrupt tainted candidates or those with sketchy past incidences will only scare voters not to go near the voting stations.
Gone are the days when electorates were fed with candidates who are only loyal, who know how to put on party regalia, know how to shout the party slogans louder than others, and those considered to be close to the fathers or mothers of the party. It is my uninhibited view that moving forward, political parties will field credible candidates who will motivate the generally disengaged electorate to participate in the next national elections.
Their presidential candidate and the parliamentary list should have candidates who will inspire the electorate, who feel generally dumped or ignored after the election to have the energy again for voting.
Electorates’ eyes and ears are now wide open to fall prey to the lies of politicians who promise mana they cannot deliver.
They are tired of corrupt and self-serving candidates and plead with all political parties to think conscientiously when fielding their candidates for the 2024 national elections.