The Swapo juggernaut

05 December 2014
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THE annihilation of the opposition parties in the just ended Presidential and National Assembly elections was something not even die-hard Swapo party supporters could have foreseen.

The elections were held against the backdrop of factional infighting in the ruling party after the party’s electoral college which left some of the old guards’ political careers facing uncertainty.

There were concerns that the youth, angry at skyrocketing land prices and high unemployment, would stay away from the polls as a form of protest.

There were also serious concerns that the party had abandoned its founding principles and had become an elitist party.

But despite these challenges, problems and concerns, the results proved that Swapo was still a party of the people.

 Although everyone expected the ruling party to win the November elections, few would have predicted that the party would deliver a crushing blow to the opposition the way it did.

So who is to blame for the poor showing by the opposition?

The DTA’s McHenry Venaani ran a good campaign that had Swapo worried, but despite his good campaign, his party still only managed to win five seats against Swapo’s 77.

Other commentators might say that the party did well at the recent polls as it managed to increase its number of seats in parliament from three to five, which secured it the official opposition party tag.

However, the fact of the matter is the party still has a long way to go before it emerges as a serious threat to Swapo’s dominance of the local political landscape.

The opposition parties have only themselves to blame. There are just too many opposition parties in this country with no substance.

Most of the opposition parties failed miserably to convince the electorate that they were a viable alternative to the Swapo party.

The majority of the opposition parties, if not all of them, lacked the financial resources to carry out a successful campaign that resonated with the voters.

With no resources to criss-cross the country to sell their policies to the electorate, it doomed the opposition parties to failure against the well-oiled Swapo party machinery.

It is a well-known fact that only Venaani captured the imagination of the Namibian voting public with his well-orchestrated campaign, and it is little wonder that his party fared better than in the previous election.

Some commentators have argued that the opposition parties would have stood a better chance if they had formed a coalition against Swapo, but such a solution is too simplistic and a misreading of the political temperatures in this country.

The final results released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia show that even if all the opposition parties had formed a coalition – something highly unlikely because of conflicting ambitions – this would not have made any difference to the outcome of the elections as the massive support for Swapo would have overwhelmed them.

While a multi-party democracy is essential and necessary to guard against abuse of power by the ruling party, copycat political parties and Mickey Mouse outfits masquerading as opposition parties will never fly.

It’s time for the opposition parties to go back to the drawing board and come out with a real strategy that works and something that is acceptable to the electorate instead of joining the political race just to satisfy their own egos.

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WINDHOEK OBSERVER

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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