The ‘winner’ is whining The ‘winner’ is whining 

22 January 2020

The results of the November 27th elections in Namibia were the most significant in this country’s history.  The participation of the Swapo Party member and ‘independent’ presidential candidate, Panduleni Itula changed the political face of this nation.  And yet, this political lightening rod is trying to overturn the very elections that he can claim to have won in significant ways.

Arguably, Itula benefited much from the 2019 elections in several important ways.  With his attention fixed on this court case, we submit that Itula cannot see the forest for the trees.  He forced the ruling party out of its stifling super majority in Parliament. 

He is the reason Hage Geingob missed a presidential run-off election by six percentage points and suffered an embarrassing 31 percent drop in his voter mandate compared to the last national elections in 2014.  

There are 243,000 people who supported his candidacy.  The number of those who paid attention to politics, perhaps for the first time due to the highly publicized existence of candidate Itula is unknown, but likely significant.  And yet, he wants to negate the elections. 

This is baffling.  While every citizen has the right to ask the court for relief as they so desire, we think it odd that Itula, a winner on many levels, actually wants the courts to re-run the elections. 

We do not believe Itula and co-plaintiffs have the quality and quantity of evidence to prevail in this legal matter.  We question why Itula is a part of this expensive judicial jog down a dead-end street.  

The legal challenge underway is an ill-conceived slap in the face to the Namibian masses who suffered heat, queue jumpers, discomfort and stood in line for nearly half a day to cast their votes. If his case prevails, all that was done was for naught. 

On the practical side, there is no money or time to re-run the elections.  Those pursuing this case should know this.  So, what is their end-game?  As this government struggles to find money for medicines in state hospitals, school places for our young learners, or provide proper policing, these disgruntled political leaders want the nation to re-spend millions it does not have to re-run an election that none of them (save Itula) could win.   

In our view, efforts to nullify the successfully completed elections are bordering on selfishness from Itula, Henk Mudge of the Republican Party, Epafras Mukwiilongo of the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters, Ignatius Shixwameni of the All People’s Party, and Mike Kavekotora of the Rally for Democracy and Progress. 

The other plaintiffs joining Itula in the case are marginalized political entities.  A couple of them are spent forces.  Their gripes vis-à-vis this law suit could be seen as their ‘last hurrah’ before sinking back into political irrelevancy.  But, Itula took home one of the election victory cups.  Why is he wasting his shrinking window of opportunity sitting in court?    

If the point is to a wage war against EVMs, then let those with such concerns make a coalition, engage the public, social media, experts and the ECN and do that.  But, to seek to nullify any part of the November elections?  We disagree with this scorched earth political tactic.

We note that the usual post-election legal-pity-party does not include McHenry Venaani of the Popular Democratic Movement or Bernadus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement.  We assume that these two astute young leaders are not looking a gift horse in the mouth. They recognize their ‘win.’  As Itula should be doing, they are busy planning strategy, solidifying their power bases and constituencies to make a difference in the upcoming Parliament.   

The Swapo Party’s leaders are scrambling for new strategies to deal with the revised reality that Itula has helped create.  This is an Itula ‘win.’  Too many ruling party leaders are in a ‘majority-party-comfort-zone’.  They are entrenched in their entitlements, fist-pumping “Viva” exercises, scared about fishrot connections, and worried about who will have a job after March 2020.  

We wonder if anyone in this lame duck government is grappling with problems that face the people.  Where are the ideas to lessen the debilitating economic crisis, curb untrained police forces beating-up people, defeat Hep E, make plans for those who did not pass their grade 10 and 12 exams, find new ideas to decrease youth employment, and attack other issues?  Itula is not pondering these problems either; he is sitting in a court room.

Another Itula ‘victory’ is to force the Swapo government to get new bifocals, rub creams into their aching joints, take vitamin B-12 tablets, drink a Red Bull and find new ways to solve the country’s everyday problems.  The powers-that-be have had a boot (with Itula’s name on it) hitting them in the political backside.  They are waking up to the power of a ‘woke’ youth electorate.  They have been forced to recognize what that means for the future.  

And yet, Itula, instead of being vocal in support of opposition candidates in the by-elections, developing a political support base for the local authority elections, building coalitions with parties that have seats in Parliament to give life to his ideas, or galvanizing youth anger into a viable political movement…is busy slamming his head against a legal wall.  

Itula is vested in the case at this point.  It appears as though he does not have his eyes on the prize.  His symbolic victory at the polls was a foundation only.  He needs massive support from many sides to build something solid.  Many cheered his fiery message; most, disappointed with Geingob, supported him as a protest vote.  He needs to spend less time in court and more time creating something politically substantive that does justice to those who voted for him.  His political capital decreases every day.



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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