IN Namibia it is becoming increasingly possible that the ruling Swapo party and its candidates will win elections comfortably, but at the same time may lose Namibia’s carefully crafted and growing democracy.
A slide in the voter turnout is the biggest threat facing the nation.
It will be an embarrassment of epic proportions for Namibia — whose international democratic status is growing day by day and whose peace and stability is universally admired — not to maintain high turnouts.
Swapo and those that rule on behalf of the movement, because they don’t know how to follow and much less how to serve, will only have themselves to blame when they win elections, but lose democracy or allow it to commit suicide by a lack of interest, trust and confidence of voters in its leaders.
If Swapo voters are losing interest, because leaders of the ruling party take them for granted and pretend unity where it does not exist, supporters who are the suffering victims of factionalism, are bound to lose faith and finally hope, and regard themselves voting cattle which they are not.
The facts are simple. There are tens of thousands of voters who will rather stay away than vote for any opposition party, because in some frontier communities it will be frowned upon as treason to a movement that is more of a culture than a political party. Added to this dilemma, most opposition parties are also in a grip of internal leadership conflict and represent opposition but not an alternative government and therefore not an option for the dissatisfied.
In the last regional, and municipal elections, voters already voted with their feet firmly planted far away from the ballot boxes.
Any party that ignores the reality of growing dissent amongst itself also has no reason to pay attention to the needs of communities. It is then rather a relationship between master and slave which every fibre in a Namibian should rebel against from happening.
With internal battles and politics of personalities in turmoil and heat turned up on various fronts of the Namibian political landscape, it is tempting to focus only on the factional infighting in the ruling Swapo party.
But, this is clearly not the full picture of the Namibian political landscape. Opposition parties look the same and are locked in various leadership and factional battles.
Then there is the small matter of the Boards of close to 90 SOEs who fight tooth and nail to hold on to their positions with fees that are increasing and state owned enterprises that suck the nation dry and basically keep the government hostage, because those who dare to intervene are accused of being political enemies.
When the Secretary-general of Swapo, me. Sophia Shaningwa, this week denied any disunity in Swapo and its leadership structures, she revealed much deeper rifts. It might have slipped her mind that she sees through her political lenses is not the reality that Namibians experience on the sidewalks.
It is almost certain that voters’ boycotts will be a strategy employed by some. The signs were there with the unsuccessful and ill-advised boycott of the Land Conference which turned out as one of the great achievements of Namibian democracy since independence with consensus reached on more than 130 resolutions.
If Namibians go on leave and holiday they do not take leave of their senses and officials should not send common sense on holiday, as well.
It is one thing to deny the obvious, but it is irresponsible to underestimate the discontent in nearly all towns, villages and settlements.
Towns, villages, regions and SOE-Boards are in turmoil!
Namibia now looks like a nation in permanent protest with officials just turning up at their offices to receive petitions and threats.
With Namibia close to lock down, it is maybe the best to read between the lines. Shaningwa’s combative bravado is far from a party “united like never before.”
Time does not heal all wounds. Over time some wounds fester until the affected limb must be amputated.
With politics, it is will be no different and it sometimes takes bravery to look in a mirror and acknowledge the truth staring back.
With the season of goodwill dawning on Namibia, it will be wise to heed the call of the President, Dr. Hage Geingob, to use the time for reflection on what can be done better for a better Namibia.
After all, that is what the Namibian family should do for each other, because the Namibian House is what they share.