WINDHOEK - Electioneering has engulfed Namibia two months before the much anticipated presidential elections which will also decide parliamentary representation, depending on the percentage of votes garnered by participating political parties.
As part of the preparations, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Advisory Council this week sent their fact finding team to the country to engage with various stakeholders which include government, political parties, civic societies and the media.
Member of the SADC Electoral Advisory Council, led by Judge John Tendwa of Tanzania, while having an open engagement with media, said they they will continue engaging with stakeholders in the country ahead of the elections.
As the momentum towards the polls gathers, the Electoral Commision of Namibia director of elections, Theo Mujoro, last week announced the opening of the nomination process for candidates willing to throw their names into the hat for the country’s political hot seat.
Perhaps more interesting is that the election, slated for November 27, is pinned on issues rather than political inclination with youth unemployment high, at 44 percent, a rather challenging economy that has been in a recession, as well as the need to satisfy the women quota in parliament, only but a few of Namibia’s pressing needs so far.
There is also a genuine challenge for all political parties to find ways of appealing to first time voters as well as the youth vote which has potential to sway the ground for the eventual winners.
There are also other social issues which are troubling the Southern African country, including a serious challenge of gender based violence which has seen hundreds of women losing their lives to crimes of passion, a rather expensive tertiary education system which has left many failing to afford and dealing with one of the world’s income inequalities which has left the black folk yoked in poverty and failing to afford basics such as housing and sanitation.
A firm opposition
While the ruling Swapo Party is currently in control of parliament and does not seem to let go of their strong hold onto power, opposition parties are more determined now than ever to provide a better alternative to the current situation based on the polices formulated.
Last week, the main opposition party, the Popular Democratic Movement, released its election manifesto titled Agenda for Change and Transformation of Our Nation, hinged on dealing with job creation, creating a strong manufacturing base and equally availing of opportunities to all Namibians.
Serve for very minor changes to the last manifesto PDM seem to be consolidating on the promises made in the last election and their president, McHenry Venaani, is unsatisfied with the current government’s economic blue print, the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), which he said has not yielded much as promised.
Venaani also promised a continuation of the free education policy, at least from primary to secondary school and bringing efficiency into the public service and creation of a modernised economy.
Venaani has also emphasised the need for a party that will have strategic planners who believe in teamwork in their next batch of parliamentarians.
“Much has been said about Swapo’s two-thirds majority in parliament. There have been no solutions to our pressing problems, as a nation. Our commitment is to the people of Namibia," he said
Venaani added that opposition parties need to stand together and build an alternative in the interest of all Namibians.
“History lessons cannot fill the stomachs of our people. Looking back cannot take us forward,” he said.
While the PDM seems to be pushing ahead, the once formidable opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), is still stuck in its challenges of dealing with a leadership wrangle, a move that could further dent their impact in the forthcoming election.
The ruling Swapo Party will unveil its election manifesto this weekend in the northern part of the country, perhaps driven by the success they achieved in the past five years and trying to find a bridging policy to deal with the challenges facing the nation.
For the past five years, Swapo Party has been focussed on provision of land for those that can afford in the urban areas, finding a better alternative to the willing-seller, willing-buyer for farmland, improving education, creating empowerment laws as well as growing key economic sectors including tourism, manufacturing and agriculture.
New kids on the bloc
In what many saw as a surprise, a youthful social justice movement, Affirmative Reposition (AR), fronted by former Swapo Youth League spokesperson and renowned academic, Job Amupanda, announced their keenness to participate in the local elections which will follow the presidential election next year.
While the AR is not participating in the November 27 presidential elections but is rather targeting the mayoral seat in Windhoek next year, their entrance into the political fray signifies the hunger in Namibia youths, just like in most SADC countries, to have their voices heard.
Key on the grievances of the AR is the provision of social amenities to the poor in both urban and rural set ups, particularly the 600 000 Namibians who live in informal settlements with severe challenges of accessing running water and electricity. They also want to see youths well represented in government structures.