Voters are not spoiled for choice

22 November 2019
Registered voters entering the booths on November 27th will have a necessary, but challenging task.  We believe the public is faced with a daunting question: How do you select a meal, when little on offer provides what is needed to end your hunger?  When making their choice at the polls, Namibians starving for change must pick through the crumbs to find enough to eat.
Namibia needs confidence-building leaders.  They must tell us and show us what they can do.  Namibia is not thriving, we are struggling. Though Minister Tweya feels we should fake-smile for the sake of outside investors, the truth is glaring.  Namibia is wobbling.  Strong hands are needed to set things straight.  None of those on offer at the ballot box have shown any ability in this regard.
This year’s election is not like 2014 or previous polls.  Namibia is in an unprecedented slump.  Back then, we needed leaders to build on a strong foundation, correct the course where things went astray, and move the country up another step on the development ladder.  In 2019, we need someone just to get us out of the hole, let alone move us ahead. 
None of those running for office have promised anything solid.  The party manifestos are not committal or specific.  There is no acknowledgement and embracing of the crisis in the country, followed by a blueprint for change. 
In the past, when you asked who people will vote for, they adamantly defended their party or their candidate for president.  They could list the reasons why they would vote a particular way.  These days, people hedge.  The public is not standing up behind their candidates.   Many who voted for Hage last time, openly said so.  They stated openly that they thought the majority party would unite the country, bring wealth, address social concerns, advance the land question, offer a path to closure on the genocide issue and other major points in the hearts of the people.  In 2019, this kind of vociferous backing of any candidate or party is muted.
The process of fixing what is broken in Namibia will be slow; the nation understands this.   But, many people heading to the polls on the 27th are still asking which leader and party can guide the nation towards revival.
SWAPO – The ruling party will win on the 27th, EVMs, court cases, and the normal accusations about vote rigging, notwithstanding.  The question is the percentage of the win and voter turnout.  There is a full list of well-known maladies associated with the ruling party and the current president.   In light of this, we cannot shake the feeling that those already in power are merely running for their jobs and not for a chance to uplift the nation.  A nationalistic commitment to healing our beautiful Namibia is not front and center in this campaign. 
The ruling party boldly asks a beleaguered public to give them five more years in office to complete what they started.  Unemployment, economic depression, deep-seeded corruption, rampant cronyism and the depreciation of Namibia is the legacy of the last five years.  To vote the same faces into power for five more years to finish what they started is a big ask.
Panduleni Itula, the ‘independent’ SWAPO candidate for President is a flash-in-the-pan.  He is not running to build a better Namibia, he is running to annoy Hage Geingob.  All he has provided to the electorate so far is bottled rage aimed at Geingob specifically.  He gives people who are angry with Geingob a focal point.                                              
Itula’s campaign is not organised; there is no real structure.   He does not have a specific blueprint and manifesto for the renewal of Namibia.  On major social and economic issues facing the nation, he is mostly silent. 
PDM - for all his new ideas, energy, experience, strong oratory and leadership demeanour, the historical baggage of DTA is a burden that will always crush McHenry Venaani at the polls.  The PDM and Venaani are formidable in terms of administration, organisation, and message articulation.  Nevertheless, their historical baggage will hold him back.
Venaani perhaps has not recognised that the “The Itula element” has hurt PDM the most.  Previously the official opposition leader made statements that he welcomed Itula as a tool for dividing the majority party vote and offering a chance for him to slide in.  This is a misperception.  There is a call for change, but people are not willing to vote PDM for that change. 
SWAPO voters who may have looked to Venaani due to their distaste for Geingob, will now vote for Itula.  Regardless of all the hard work of PDM over the last five years, their lack of support is exposed.  PDM is superficial and presents no strong position on genocide, land reform, abortion, or closing the economic gap between blacks and whites.  Venaani is locked away from issues that concern the average voter as he must first satisfy his minority constituency.
NUDO - Internal squabbles have compromised the party.  As recent as two weeks ago, issues around their congress were still being raised.  They have a genuine cause with the ancestral land and genocide issues that appeal to one ethnic group.  But, they have failed to sell that issue on a national level.  Perhaps they will have a seat in Parliament.
LPM - The nascent political party recently had a rally and no one showed up.    This sums up their performance at the polls on November 27th.  Bernadus Swartbooi passionately articulates good ideas.  But, LPM will need more years to build a stronger base and obtain assets needed to run a longer term campaign.  They started with no funding and were in a hole at the start.  They are currently without a Parliamentary seat and the platform that provides. 
Some of their members went for training in South Africa to raise their capacity.  One wonders with all of SWAPO’s resources, why they have not invested in raising the capacity of those on their party list.
RDP – is dead in the water.  Internal squabbles have neutered them.  The old founding architects of RDP are comfortably sitting in SWAPO planning for Netumbo’s ascent.   Mike Kavekotora is sitting astride a dying horse.  It is entirely possible that they will not win a single seat.
UDF – the highly respected, but ailing Justus Garoeb is a spent force.  His proud and noble sun is setting.  This is an example of a party rooted in a personality rather than a viable national platform and succession planning.  This party will continue to do and say the same thing in the same way and win nothing better as a result. 
RP –The aging and irrelevant Henk Mudge “pulled out” of presidential elections when most people didn’t realise he was even running.  He made a tactical statement backing Itula – which actually does more damage to Itula than assists him.  Henk still tries to copy the tactic of his venerable father who was good at getting people of colour as front-faces for his party to thwart their “party of the whites” image.  He holds little sway with fellow whites or younger white voters and will likely be offered a single seat in Parliament for old times’ sake.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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