FLIPSIDE —- Chris Jacobie
NAMIBIANS are on an historical threshold of arguably the most important elections since the United Nations (UN) supervised elections under UN-Resolution-435 thirty years ago that ushered in Independence.
The 2019 elections is especially historic in that three generations of Namibian voters of democracy since independence – grandparents, parents, and children – have a small window of opportunity of seismic proportions.
It is an opportunity not to be missed.
In 1989 –following the Mt. Etjo-ceasefire, the kaleidoscope of society had to start the seemingly difficult road of maintaining peace and establishing trust under the most violent and challenging times of a more than hundred year war amongst themselves and various occupiers.
In 1989 they came out of their trenches and for 30 years have beaten swords into ploughshares. The collective Namibian achievement inspired the release of Nelson Mandela, the handover of Walvis Bay and democracy in South Africa set the rest of the continent on a road of regular elections.
The achievement of ordinary Namibians and once mortal enemies in 1989, is not the victory of donor driven civil society organisations and social media parliamentarians and activists, who do not know if they are political parties or concerned citizens, as they claim, but they should respect and strengthen the rights of all others, because their own existence is fuelled by democratic Namibians.
Duty now calls the citizens and voters of 2019 to deliver a final blow to factionalism and tribalism.
More than a million citizens passed the first test of Namibian Independence and sustainable democracy by registering as voters.
The question now is whether candidates and organisations who want the vote deserves it if they are originating from division, opportunism and tribalism. In this regard the biggest constituency, proof of unity and a motion of confidence in Namibia’s constitutional democracy is the voter’s roll.
The voting percentage will determine the health of democracy, the faith in regular elections and the rights of citizens to organize themselves into organisations or political parties that should influence government policy according to guaranteed constitutional obligations towards citizens.
For that matter – if Namibians prefer – they can have fifty political parties and more presidential candidates than parties.
What Namibians should reject with every democratic bone in their bodies is the idea that independent candidates can challenge their party structures and culture and expect the nation to solve their personal and factional issues. Panduleni Itula for example is insulting his Swapo comrades and supporters by telling them with his internal conflict and rebellion that loyalty and political stupidity is the same. He can be forgiven for that. But he should not be forgiven for demanding that opposition presidential candidates must withdraw and vote for him. Where was he when opposition parties and their candidates tried to contribute to Namibian progress which they did.
What Itula is busy with is the worst type of tribalism and factionalism that only bad losers can demonstrate and proves that his clan-agenda is more important than his desire or capacity for change.
It is made worse if the only strategy is the hope that confusion and factionalism will carry the day for the Itula band of anarchists, activists and discontent leaders that is such an obvious Trojan Horse from the enemies from within the gates.
The Swapo rebel is not an independent candidate. He is a returnee from foreign shores who enjoyed the best education that money could buy and for that he must be congratulated and admired. But his intellectual arrogance should be despised.
While he worked hard at the best of London’s Universities, Namibians worked under the worst challenging times and remained reconciled, making peace to secure a safe and stable country for and with all.
Like the forefathers of the nation, Namibians don’t run at the first sign of adversity, but fight back even with their backs against the wall.
The international donor community and opportunistic investors are not going to buy Namibia out of crisis. They thrive on crises and Namibians alone must fight back against the devastating drought and they already do it on all levels; they must cope with the worst economic times since independence and they will.
In this regard, the opposition parties and its leaders are a far better choice than a returnee dentist who because of his ego volunteered himself to be used to lead the disgruntled party members who since 2012 could not accept the results of the party’s election results.
Namibia was not only built on the behaviour and generosity of the winning parties and candidates, it was also built by the grace in which opposition parties and their leaders accepted defeat. Like political warriors they might lose elections, but not their commitment to their supporters as instruments of democracy.
Itula will not be aware, because he was not here and when he returned found a much better Namibia than the one he left.
In a few days’ time Namibians will celebrate a 30-year genesis and love affair with democracy and elections as a community of resilience. They have earned the right to wear elections as a national badge of honour.
Swapo structures should take care of their rebels and Namibians will take care of Namibia.
In 1989, there was no Facebook, WhattsApp, Instagram and fake news that could unleash a campaign of insult and incitement.
It was a time of excitement and anticipation and a fear for the unknown that forced Namibians to sit knee to knee and engage, talk, compromise and tolerate.
Sadly, the improved communication, cost of data and the few characters on a keyboard of a cell phone or a computer wiped out even the most recent memories of sacrifice.
The cost of data and the snobbery of social media are excluding the thousands of Namibians who are not connected and have no internet access, but have to walk longs distances and brave the relentless sun to attend rallies that most candidates and parties still have to rely on.
It is an insult to the vast majority of Namibians and anti-socials to pretend that social media is determining the agenda for the vast majority of Namibians. Now is the time to deliver a knock-out blow to faceless social media warriors and faux independents that treat Namibians like mushrooms by keeping them in the dark and feed them manure.
The elections are an opportunity to demonstrate respect for the dignity and equality amongst all citizens where the rich and poor, the idiot and genius, the cattle herder and ranch owner, as well as 18-year old firebrands and their grandfathers and –mothers in old age homes, are equally healthy and fit to press a button and keep Namibia on course of civil debate and choice.
The country needs a strong government and a strong president to continue with the weeding out of weak representatives and fixing even weaker systems.
As their forbearers, Namibians will continue to build their nation under the merciless sun and on the windswept plains, where the free remains free, because their obligation is towards the dignity of fellow Namibians and their compassion with the weak and the suffering in the never-ending struggle of nationhood and a better future for all.