CANDIDATES, newly formed political parties and activists who turned to social media for political campaigning, have turned against each other and weaponize Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in a catfight.
Barely 12-hours before elections, the candidate list of political parties and candidates are in turmoil after some candidates have jumped ship.
In at least two regional councils, Ondangua and Windhoek, withdrawn candidates are still on the ballot paper, although they are not with the parties that nominated them.
The vicious social media onslaught against each other bodes ill for future cooperation between parties and candidates.
In a near-unprecedented turnaround of political fortune, social media campaigners are now revealing information and past statements of contestants – claiming that is necessary because the candidates were not open with the voting public and are misleading by omission.
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts that were carpet-bombed in the election campaigns to reach every voter, especially new ones, are now weaponized in attrition.
Hafeni Mufita of the John Pandeni constituency, who resigned after he was given an ultimatum by the PDM management to apologize, but announced that he returned to Swapo, is still on the ballot.
Mufita retaliated against an alleged racist post by a bank official and his supporters claim that it is not certain what will happen if he wins in one of the hotly contested seats.
PDM members took to various Facebook platforms declaring that the way the Mufita matter was handled proves the huge cracks in the PDM leadership with some accepting his apology and wanting to move forward.
They now say some leaders overreacted in his case and are creating confusion on consistency.
The PDM is already in a court battle about six parliamentarians who were replaced on the list after the original ECN approved list was altered.
Both sides are threatening to sue if they are on the losing side and indicated that they will claim loss of income that could set the cash stripped party back with millions of dollars in legal fees.
Mafita said as far as he is concerned he resigned from the party and returned to Swapo, the party of his “mother and father”.
In the northern stronghold of Swapo, the All People’s Party was thrown into disarray after its candidate for Ondangua Urban, Boas Ngeelume, defected back to Swapo with 18 of his strongest supporters and told them to vote for Leonard Negonga of Swapo.
The RDP is also embroiled in a leadership struggle between founding members, Kandy Nehova and parliamentarian, and leader Mike Kavekatora. The divide between the two founding members is threatening to destroy the RDP in the northern power base with Nehova sympathizers allegedly relentlessly organising against the RDP.
The RDP is also fighting a rearguard campaign against its former City Councillor Brunhilde Cornelius when she left the RDP. According to her, they did nothing to support her in her fight against corruption on the 5G Huwai conspiracy allegations that were allegedly reported to Al Jazeera and the anti-corruption commission.
However, the most vicious social media political attacks are reserved for the newly formed Independent Patriots for Change. It is being singled out as a force of division amongst disgruntled former politicians and activists.
The most severe criticism comes from independents who are standing in their communities, saying they are betrayed by an Ithula-ban of independent candidates while the party itself originated from an Independent Swapo candidate who fought a national election campaign from inside the Swapo party.
The Regional Councillor candidate of the IPC and dynamic businesswomen, Ciske Smit Howard is targeted in the Swakopmund and Walvis Bay communities. They dug up and distributed controversial statements of the past two years on Twitter and Facebook in the corner of known conservatives.
The posts accuse her of not being honest and not taking the voters into her confidence.
Smit Howard told an Informanté reporter she got interested in politics after she was approached by the IPC to be a candidate.
As a successful businesswoman, she entered the public debate after accusing the Deputy Prime Minister and Swapo Vice-president, me Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, of incompetence for only allowing her and her business partner Ralph Blaauw 30 minutes to discuss a national Health Scheme. Her partner Ralph Blaauw is a disgraced Swapo youth leader and parliamentarian who was found guilty with Paulus Kapia and others in connection with an SCC fraud scheme.
According to her critics and contestants, she abused the fact that most of the poor in the DRC settlement do not have Facebook and Twitter accounts or cannot afford the data to check on her business or political track record.
Namibian and New Era pictures of a 74-year old pensioner and 12 dependents, amongst them a former worker of the Howard-Smit family, who was evicted from their home, is also dusted off and is spreading like wildfire on various social and political forums.
Smit since closed a Twitter account where she wondered and explored the possibility of the time is not right for South African farmers to take up “arms.”
In referring to South African issues she allegedly tweeted “that people running the show are barbarians and that there are “animals with arms that behave like that.”
Another tweet that her opponents claim is the high point of hypocrisy, says “l will not make you rich”, and she, who now is an aspiring politician herself, asks why politicians insist to keep the electorate dumb. “Stop asking for land, ask for education.” At one stage she said that farm murders in the neighbouring country are getting ridiculous and something should be done about this: “Take up arms, guys, this is ridiculous.”
Although the threats are now bombarding social media, the accounts are closed. Smit, a successful and dynamic businesswoman, is contesting for a regional council ticket against the candidates of six other parties, amongst them also an independent candidate.
The IPC also experienced headwind from AR activists after Ithula publicly dumped the AR and turned his back on cooperation with any party and idea that McHenry Venaani of the PDM pursued, but failed.
The president of the RP, Henk Mudge, is also experiencing serious pushback because of voicemails, claiming that he was personally and emotionally tempted to expose Swapo and saying he also does not trust his old ally, Panduleni Ithula.
The social media campaigns of character assassination are expected to carry on tomorrow during the election process.