Upbeat, defiant and optimistic best describe Rally for Democracy and Progress leader, Mike Kavekotora’s attitude, when he recently dismissed claims the former official opposition party is past its sell by date.
Kavekotora is adamant that for as long as corruption remains rampant, unemployment levels remain high while public resources continue to be distributed in a skewed manner, RDP has a role to play in the political theatre.
The technocrat and politician shared these sentiments during a wide-ranging interview, which covered the party’s current state, its financials and future prospects.
From the onset, he conceded the party is faced by a myriad of challenges.
At the heart of RDP’s woes is its dwindling finances.
The party’s main funding is drawn from the National Assembly, which is based on the number of seats each political party has.
At its maiden election in 2009, RDP secured eight seats in the assembly. In 2014, they dropped to only three.
At present, the party has two seats in parliament, for which it receives around N$2 million annually.
“The issue of finance is a challenge to us because we lost seats in parliament and a bulk of our revenue came from party funding. We could not run at the same speed like all other political parties with 16 seats and 66 and so on. So we have to do with very little, with the same objectives, because we still have Namibia as a constituency,” Kavekotora said.
Kavekotora also lamented that the culture of volunteerism in political activities has disappeared “because of the culture of entitlement” or rightly so due to harsh economic realities.
This, however, has not deterred RDP from carrying out its political programmes.
Presently, as a way of operating within its budgetary constraints, Kavekotora is the only party official who travels to meet members or sympathisers throughout the country, as opposed to having centralised mass meetings where delegates have to travel to the venue.
The RDP leader was also pressed on the party’s dormancy, in a crowded political sphere.
“We do have a share in the sense that, we are actively participating in parliament.”
The politician also questioned the credibility of the 2019 elections. He premised his pessimism on the use of electronic voting machines without verifiable paper trails at that election.
“I don’t attach any value, honestly, to the outcome of the 2019 elections,” the former TransNamib executive said.
He also responded to their general absence on contemporary media platforms or if at all, they are considering to rebrand as a political movement.
“I must admit that we are not doing as good as we could have in the social media arena. But because of the limited resources, we are time-bound. We need to utilise our resources effectively.”
“Moving closer to elections, you see us getting engaged more and more in social media,” he added, noting that the party has since hired a fulltime employee to run the party’s website and other tech-related affairs.
For the past two years, much of RDP’s funds were directed to fighting a legal battle against one of its founding members, Kandy Nehova.
The former chairperson of the National Council has challenged the legitimacy of Kavekotora as party leader but lost that case this year.
“I hope Kandy will now take a permanent break and do whatever he wants to do in life and not bother us anymore,” Kavekotora said, adding that the legal challenge was not a legitimate one.
“I think there were some people behind him who were not happy with the smooth process that took place during the convention of 2019,” Kavekotora said.
His hunch is that ruling Swapo party, from which RDP broke away, is determined to see it fall apart.
“The ruling party has an unwritten rule that any political party that comes out of Swapo must be destroyed by all means,” he charged.
On the fragmented opposition and coalition politics, he said: “If we were strategic enough, if we were visionary as all opposition parties, we would’ve realised that the question is not about ‘who is going to be number one’. The question should have been, ‘what is in the best interest of the Namibian people’?”
This paper sought the views of political analyst and lawyer, Natjirikasorua Tjirera, on RDP.
From Tjirera’s bird’s eye view, RDP’s future is bleak.
“Are they alive?” he asked.
“I don’t see how RDP will resurrect. Their leader is contesting for the Ovaherero paramount chieftaincy. Maybe that’s his exit strategy,” Tjirera said.
His pessimism is anchored on what he termed “diminished influence of the Omusati clique”.
“When RDP came out, it was backed by strong Swapo activists who felt that they were unfairly treated and disrespected. Swapo managed to fight RDP by calling it a tribalist Kwanyama party. They have never successfully shrugged off that tag,” he continued.
“But since Hage Geingob took over, Swapo has been welcoming. Most of these RDP stalwarts returned to Swapo. You saw the late Hidipo Hamutenya was accorded a hero’s funeral. The anger has subsided and there is no one to fight, because these people left Swapo to form RDP out of anger,” Tjirera added.
Over the years, Kavekotora has brushed off this tag, saying as a Herero, he would not be RDP’s leader, if it was true.