After the victory, comes the battle

22 November 2019 Author  
We can state with some confidence that Hage Geingob will win the election on November 27th. He will return to State House for a second term as President of Namibia.
We have a deeper concern. We believe that after Hage’s win, the real struggle for control over Namibia will begin. Geingob’s victory will not settle issues but re-open buried discontent. Fresh waves of opposition towards himself and the ruling party-led government will be ignited.
Hage winning is not the problem; governing afterward is.
‘Independent’ candidate and SWAPO member, Panduleni Itula has hit a sore spot with his campaign. He is not campaigning for himself, he is protesting against Hage Geingob. The reality is that Itula is not a single voice in the wilderness. He represents a very angry, frustrated portion of the party base and in the wider country. He has given their anger, a voice, and an outlet.
And yet, after the elections, as he will not be Namibia’s next president. Itula will not have a platform from which to continue his role as a rallying point for anti-Geingob sentiments. The erstwhile dentist is not on SWAPO’s party list so will not be in Parliament. He has no role in government and cannot speak from that platform either. But, what he does have is the potent young people of Namibia as a support base.
This support base is not going away after November 27th. It is dangerous because it is young, energetic and doesn’t have much to lose. Those are the exact groups of people in a society who change governments. They have the ability to paralyze a system.
Look at the entire so-called ‘Arab Spring’, events in Hong Kong, and protests in other African countries. Change has been the result of those concerted, determined and at times, unruly actions of young protestors. The disenchanted, frustrated, unemployed and underemployed, hopeless, and marginalized can hit the streets in Namibia. This kind of constituency is a large part of Itula’s most vocal following.
Itula’s voice is potent because he presses hot button issues. He speaks about what young people want to hear. He uses slogans, clichés, and platitudes to focus on subjects, not substance. And yet, this is what his growing audience at rallies and those quietly in support of him, expect him to say.
What makes the situation worse is that our current government has a lack of awareness about the plight of younger Namibians.  Decision-makers are disconnected from what makes the younger people tick. They relate to their youthful years in SWAPO camps or during the struggle. They remember their background of traditional, cultural and social morés limited by ethical standards of 40 - 60 years ago. What happened then has almost no connection to what younger people value today. In this ICT world of social media, fast communications, freedom to travel, lower social barriers and a visual, materialistic world, young people want change now.
SWAPO and its aging leadership have no idea what is swirling about in the minds of young people frustrated by the status quo. This makes the ground fertile for discontent.
Sadly, even if the Geingob Administration could accept the reality of mounting frustration represented by the speeches of Itula over the microphone, it does not have the capacity or ability to diffuse the situation.
We have redoubled our appreciation of two iconic Namibian leaders: Hosea Kutako and Sam Nujoma. The hallmark of greatness was their ability to identify and deploy giants to be able to lead the people.  Kutako’s ability to deploy Nujoma, a giant from a different ethnic group, was a remarkable leadership talent. He deployed the likes of Ngavirue and Scott without concerns about his own ego, position, powerbase or popularity. These were giants, deployed for the national cause.
Nujoma, a giant, deployed the Tjitenderos, Nanyembas, Hamutenyas and many other giants for the greater cause. There was no fear of being usurped or overshadowed. Giants with their keen skills were needed to advance the cause of liberating the people; so Nujoma sent them to do the task.
Hage Geingob cannot do this. He is a giant, but is intimidated by other ‘giants.’ He sees himself as the only giant in his circle and wants to keep it that way. No one with greater political presence, strong backing, talents and savvy skills will arise in Geingob’s circle.
Because he has no giants around him, the entire SWAPO campaign was based only on him, Geingob. ‘Hage will lead us to the Promised Land!’ Therefore, Itula’s target in his campaign is Hage. Since there are no giants around the SWAPO leader to protect him, he takes on all the criticism and political hits personally.
While we believe Geingob will win the election, we do not believe he will achieve the 87 percent he won in 2014. His political capital has waned. After the 2019 elections, his capital will continue to decline, even though he would have won the majority at the ballot box.
The people currently ‘loyal’ to him are around only because he appointed them. As this will be Hage’s last term and he passes his 80th birthday, he will begin his long good-bye. The non-giants in his circle in search of re-appointments to posts will quietly realign themselves to whoever is his likely successor.  Hage’s political capital to address the plight of the youth or any other problem will be minimal. He may be a lame duck in office the minute he is sworn in.
We look at people and judge them by what they do, not what they say. We do not believe that Geingob has this country’s economic revival as his top priority. His former economic advisor Dr John Steytler resigned over a year ago and Hage is quiet about it. In the midst of a serious economic decline, no new economic advisor has been appointed. And yet, when SWAPO spokesperson Hilma Nicanor surrendered her job as Deputy Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, the next day she was re-appointed to a similarly ranked post in the Executive.  This demonstrates the president’s priorities.  Actions speak louder than words.
Hage only acts on things that personally touch him. Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo challenged him for party leadership posts. They lost; he fired them straight away.  And yet, when ministers are accused of looting and corruption, he only reshuffles them to other ministries. With Esau and Shanghala, slammed for corruption by very convincing reports of illegal actions, he allows them to resign and thanks them for their great service to the nation.
We note that former health minister Bernard Haufiku was sacked by Hage and sent into political exile as an advisor in the Vice President. His crimes? He crossed Hage about a hospital tender in the North and he requested donations to keep a cash-strapped, but valuable eye clinic open.
What message is being sent to the growing armies of young people raising their fists in cheers to the Itula cause? Geingob may win and lose at the same time.
Step up and go vote!
The time to exercise democracy is now. Go vote. If you want change; go vote for change. If you want things to remain the same; go vote for that. It is people who have the power in a democracy to say how they will be governed. As the old and wise saying goes, “If not you, then who? If not now, then when?” Each citizen that has registered to vote, must go vote.
November 27, 2019, will be the 6th national elections in the independent and free Republic of Namibia. It is a momentous occasion. Namibia is at a crisis point in its development. It is only the people who can give leaders guidance on how things should be run.
Even if you think the list available to choose from are all devils, vote for your devil. Your non-vote is a vote for whatever you did NOT want for Namibia.
Go vote!


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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