• May 31st, 2020

The future of regional indigenous political parties in Namibia



David Lamb in his book, The Africans maintains that despite its advantages, nationalism has failed to take root in Africa because many African political leaders pay lip-ice service to the philosophy. In addition, Africans have not harvested tangible nationalistic fruits. Like other countries before independence, Namibians chorused, “One Namibia, One Nation; An Injury to One is An Injury to All, Free Education, Free Medical Services for All”, “and many more deafening sloganeerings. These slogans are now hollow, mute and dead, maybe demised forever, leaving many Namibians wallowing in poverty and despair, in the wake of gross mismanagement of their resources. 

Why should Namibia have a proliferation of political parties based on regional or ethnic orientation?  What do these parties offer which is diverse from one another? Surprising still is the exodus of political icons and giants from one party to another in search of bread and butter culminating into the dictum, “Politics of the Belly.” Yes, politics is dynamic, but should it not be in line with the principles of integrity? “Many political theorists argue and repudiate to accept the dictum that politics is dirty but shift the blame on the individuals occupying positions of power as agents of corruption. What has happened to the national aspirations of the Namibian politicians? Where did the Namibian political train miss the rail? There could be many reasons, but we could settle for the following for now:

The democratic nature of Namibian politics
Namibian politicians have taken advantage of the democratic environment prevailing in the country as per Article 17 of the constitution and form many political parties sometimes based purely on ethnicity. This scenario has seen the mushrooming of small regional indigenous parties which blossom within a brief span of time and then quickly wilt like a flower in hot season. Most of these small parties have failed to make any national dent by co-opting members across the national spectrum. In some cases, the numbers keep on dwindling for lack of progressive national programmes. One young man from the Zambezi recently lamented the lack of an indigenous political party brewed and nurtured in the Region, which is not true because there is the National Democratic Party under the leadership of Hon. Martin Lukato, hence his sentiments are not genuine. 

The political centre can no longer hold
Even the liberating party has had its ups and downs over the years an indication that no party is incorruptible, despite the assertion by many Namibians that Swapo will see a millennium of rule. It was the similar assertion in Zambia where UNIP has almost disintegrated and the Malawian Congress Party which is now in the political doldrums. It was one might Swapo party but we are now confronted with two parties in one. The party can no longer hide the disunity, by splitting into Swapo Harambee and Team Swapo. It is clear that the split is along ethnic lines, and definitely not along ideology or philosophy. It becomes unbelievable when the party all along allowed an independent candidate to run on a Swapo ticket and incredible so when the icons of nationalism in Swapo were publicly supporting the lonely presidential candidate. 

Lack of political and uniting will
Right from independence, the rulers allowed laissez faire mode of appointments, which stagnated nationalism. There was limited national integration at many levels. Senior government officials were retained in their regions or places of birth. The significant and visible form of national integration was the exodus of teachers from the Zambezi region to the rest of the country looking for employment. This exodus was in no way reciprocal and in many cases, the exodusees became victims of xenophobia in their own country.

Sharing the national cake
There are regions where development has stagnated due to sheer lack of vision and national support. This has sent rumbles of discontent among sections of the nation. The easy solution for the affected people is to form political parties based on ethnicity. In some cases, regions have been increased for the same group of people to have a larger share of the cake.

Post-independence syndrome
Years after independence many Africans have come to know their rights and can no longer be taken for a ride. The oppressor has gone and there is no common adversary so to say. The diseases and enemies of state like ignorance, hunger and poverty remain imaginary and not seen as such by the masses. Illusions of one partyism are packed at the back of the people’s brains. Party membership is a choice not compulsory anymore; hence people are not forced to belong to the liberating party.  Like in Mazrui’s assertion, the bigger ethnic groups consolidate themselves for the exploitation of the remnants of the wealth left behind by the colonialists. 

Ngugi waThiongo on the other hand argues that after independence, it is the elite based on friendship not on ethnicity, which controls both the economy and politics. In the Namibian post independent political spectrum, many layers of control emerged like the connection to the liberation struggle and the regional ruling clique. 
In the long run, Namibian politics seem to tilt towards regionalism, a repetition of the Bantustans as fashioned by the Odendaal Commission, because nationalism has failed to find fertile ground in the country. 


Staff Reporter
2020-05-15 09:44:43 | 15 days ago

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