WINDHOEK - Political commentators believe odds are heavily stacked against opposition political parties in the run-up to the National Assembly and Presidential elections.
Namibians will go to the polls on 27 November to elect a new president and members of parliament. However, unlike the powerful campaign machinery that Swapo continues to enjoy, smaller parties are finding the going tough and have to adjust to new ways of luring potential voters. From a funding point of view, Swapo receives the biggest chunk of funds reserved for political parties owing to their dominance in the National Assembly where they have 77 seats.
In the current financial year, the ruling party received over N$69.3 million, while its closest rival the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) the got N$4.5 million for its five seats.
Political commentator Graham Hopwood is of the opinion that smaller parties find it difficult to mobilise support.
“Most of the opposition parties only wake up a few months before an election,” he said.
“They will need to use cost-effective means to campaign such as using social media and free-to-air broadcasts on radio and TV. Podcasts are also an idea as they can circulate very quickly on platforms like WhatsApp. They should be constantly mobilising their support base and reaching out to new supporters.”
According to him, most opposition parties lack effective structures like regional branches and do not build up a membership base to help finance party activities.
“A sliding scale would mean well-off members pay more. Some of the old-fashioned ideas could also bring in income like fundraising braais among supporters,” he said.
He said few funders give money for political parties because there are nice people with good ideas in the leadership.
Political analyst Nico Horn said smaller parties with unknown leaders are unlikely beneficiaries of private donors since moral funders only give money to parties or individuals they trust.
“And political parties get funding based on its support in the previous election,” said Horn, adding that many parties struggle to survive after elections.
“The CoD came and went and analysts are not excited about the RDP’s chances in the coming elections,” he said.
Also, he said Evilastus Kaaronda’s Power does not seem to be a new star on the political front.
“New parties need a base and a cause. LPM has a strong following in the south, a cause and a charismatic leader. I expect them to do well in the south. However, they did not manage to spread their message in the rest of the country,” opines Horn.
“Our present two communists in parliament (the Workers Revolutionary Party) suffered from faction disagreements in their first term. I do not have much hope for them,” he said.
For other newcomers, Horn said, the lack of funds and the regional nature of Namibian voting patterns, do not give them much of a chance to get elected members in the next National Assembly.
“They are not eligible for government funding if they do not have elected members at the time of the election,” he said.
Another political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said campaign financing is crippling and weakening opposition parties, especially the smaller and emerging ones, who cannot reach all the potential voters.
“That’s the odds against them in the November election in the sense that their campaigns are only confined to certain geographical areas, mostly in Windhoek and urban centres,” he said.
Kamwanyah said the majority of voters are in rural areas where opposition parties can’t reach due to limited financial resources.
Nonetheless, he said it does not mean that they cannot be creative and innovate to get their messages across to voters.
“They can make use of social media and have a strong presence. They can also strategically focus on specific areas instead of spreading themselves wide,” he said.
As for attracting foreign funding, Kamwanyah believes it is a daunting task because many political parties have little influence.
“Foreign funders prefer to fund parties that have influence in order to protect their own interests. Funders don’t just fund for the sake of funding but with the hope of getting something in return,” he said.
2019-10-11 07:32:13 | 6 days ago