Myth and Reality
POLITICAL parties, candidates and voters who create and believe the myth that the 2019 election campaign can only start with an official announcement, are ignorant about democracy. It is even more a pity that it is displayed in public.
The misunderstanding about campaigns maybe stems from an internal party arrangement of Swapo that the election campaigns of the various contestants for positions at congresses should start on a specific date, forgetting that a party culture is hardly a national obligation.
It is time to consider facts.
With the near unstoppable development of electronic information platforms, including close to addictive fake news that is built on insults and character assassination, election campaigns will gain momentum and it will be ugly. It will be laced with more poison of suspicion, aimed to divide and it will prove that “made in America” is like “made in China” where not everything that is imported to Namibia is useful.
A relentless internal Swapo election campaign remains underway since 2012 and is not a small matter. The Swapo lists of candidates for the National Assembly, National Council, Regional Councils, Town and village Councils will have a bigger influence on voters’ turnouts than the vote count itself.
The ongoing rebellion in Swapo and controlled town councils have nothing to do with party loyalty or democracy, but rather with so-called candidates clinging to power for personal gain where councillors and parliamentarians present themselves as self- appointed gods amongst mortals.
This reality is not a message from ancestors, but those that are humble enough, that care enough, are respectful enough and are tolerant enough, hear it from the debates on the pavements, on street corners and the taxi-parliament where the election campaign is underway for a long time already. The lack of respect for citizen’s talk is a lack of humility and it is worse than a lack of accountability.
The current internal debates amongst comrades might be unusual for Namibians accustomed to a party that relied on secrecy during the liberation struggle, but actually it proves a healthy, stable-, tested and growing multiparty constitutional democracy.
Some statements from activists might be crude and tasteless to some, but it can only happen in a strong democracy where freedom of expression is protected. Not only promises and demands are heard, but Namibians will eventually also judge the tone of voice.
Reality is also that the candidate lists of opposition- and new political parties will not be less of a challenge than the mountain Swapo will face when electing it candidates. It is already an ethnic, gender and generational minefield for representative democracy and it will be difficult if not impossible for some to shake off the perceptions. Some of the opposition parties might find it impossible to field enough candidates to contest in all constituencies. Some will not escape the suspicion of tribal interest and others might not strike a gender balance.
The sword of legal remedy for all sorts of internal issues that should have been settled by internal democracy, still overshadows almost very political party, including Swapo.
The official opposition, the former DTA of Namibia, rebranded themselves, NUDO, the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), RDP and Congress of Democrats are embroiled in internal leadership struggles, while constituents like the former SWATF/KOEVOET fighters contemplate forming their own party. Alliance talks are underway and others collapsed before it started.
The political battlefield is overcrowded with no shortage of targets due to the economic slowdown, adverse climatic conditions and poverty that is always handy to be politically abused again and again as so many times in the past.
Namibians have lost their innocence and by now know that political parties and leaders cannot promise themselves into power or gossip others out of leadership.
They know that to win elections a few things must conspire. The voters must believe that a party has a realistic chance of winning and that opposition can be an alternative and guarantee peace.
And as unusual, it seems the possibility is there that Swapo and its leadership might not desire to improve on their historic majorities, because it created impossible expectations and additionally contributed to the arrogance of power of those that benefit from party lists and will never challenge for votes on their own.
The ballot box is not a coffin where commitment to a better Namibia and the plight of its citizens are buried in as soon as results are announced, but the gift box of responsive government and dialogue to meet the expectations of Namibia and all its citizens winner and loser alike.
The history of the freedom struggle, the constitution and independence are a genesis of unity, peace and stability where both the winners and losers accept victory and defeat with grace and continue to contest and fight another day.
In Namibia, elections are not a myth but a duty, and Namibians will prove it again just as they did every five years since Independence.
The love of country is a powerful national force that endured much and can endure much more, because freedom and Independence was hard earned and therefore appreciated and cherished.
Namibian Elections are the ties that bind, not the dagger that cuts apart.