The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) is one of the new kids on the political block which has registered to contest this year’s National Assembly and Presidential Elections on 27 November 2019.
They aspire to higher heights after this year’s elections and seek to become the official opposition, challenging the Swapo super majority in Parliament.
The LPM started as a social movement before registering as a political party in February this year. They were a populist movement focusing on organizing local people around property rights, ancestral land, foreign land ownership, the rights of workers living generationally on farms and the slow servicing of urban land. Founded by former Swapo Parliamentarian and Deputy Minister of Land Reform, Bernadus Swartbooi, the youthful party hopes to leave its imprint on the political front.
Swartbooi parted ways with his superiors over the issue of land resettlement and distribution, criticising disorganization in the lands ministry, poor leadership by the minister, unfair and slow land distribution, especially in the South. He accused the government of resettling Namibians from other regions and sidestepping Namibians born in the areas of their traditional ancestry.
Some traditional and government leaders rejected claims for re-allocation of ancestral land, reasoning that ancestral land claims would promote tribalism and a return to the hated ‘Bantustans’ of the apartheid era.
The LPM has also been accused of a tribal agenda, pandering to the interests of Nama people, but the party has denied such allegations, saying it has a membership that is a fair representation of all Namibians as can be seen from its leadership. Swartbooi also is adamant that land is a unifying Namibian issue of concern. People from all areas have issues that relate to government land policies and promises.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer’s Magreth Nunuhe (MN) this week, Utaara Mootu (UM), LPM’s national spokesperson revealed the party’s plans for the elections and how it is strategising to take power:
MN: Will you observe the 50/50 zebra style in your Electoral College?
UM: Equal gender representation is one of the top priorities of the party and has been translated into our current leadership structures. Thus, we will have a well-balanced and equally youthful representative list.
MN: What do you envisage/hope to win (seats) at this year's national elections?
UM: We strive to get more than 20 seats during this year’s national elections and forecast that Namibians will vote for change. We predict that Namibia is on the brink of new horizons and that LPM is the change that Namibians seek.
MN: When will you hold your Electoral College?
UM: It will be in October held in Rundu, the date will be made public later on.
MN: How do you intend to break the two-thirds Parliamentary majority of Swapo?
UM: By continuing to work on the ground at the grassroots. We have already dislodged the corrupt Swapo from many constituencies and will continue to do such. We strongly advocate for the urgency of having a sound democratic system and the dangers that a two-thirds majority has on democracy. We will aggressively continue using the media, door-to-door campaigns to spread our messages against kleptocracy, and clientelism that is enhanced through the two-thirds majority and how it continues to harm the lives of citizens and further deprives them of development.
MN: How will you make LPM relevant in these elections?
UM: LPM has been relevant for the past two years since its inception, we advocated for land and against the injustices of the unequal development culture that our country adopted throughout its independence. We continue to be relevant by focusing on the needs of the people, by this, following a people-centred approach to our policies, politics and community engagement. We plan on creating a decentralised political system with maximum participation from citizens. As a party we are focused on social transformation, by doing this, we plan to engage with society and helping them understand the real power that society has and the power and future of this country have to be seized back by its people.
MN: What are the highlights of your election campaign?
Among many things, we highlight the fight for land, the industrial revolution, and agricultural reform. Youth unemployment and youth empowerment in politics and the private sector is a priority. SME reform and the revival of the arts sector in Namibia is also a top concern.
MN: Is the opposition dead?
No, the opposition is not dead. We work very hard to ensure that the government is held accountable and that we provide befitting alternatives that will advance the country. We are currently working as a collective, approaching the ECN to provide evidence on the transparency and legitimacy of the EVMs that will ensure that these coming elections are fair. In fact, what is very alive is the system of victimisation that is birthed by a two-thirds majority which hampers the people’s freedom to choose to be part of opposition without having to face dire consequences. This system continues to be a mirage that the opposition is weak while, in fact, we are not.