Are these just ‘’small storms’’

Should the rumblings that we lately see in the new political formations be regarded as crises in these movements or political parties.

The new parties that participated in the 2019 national elections and the 2020 Regional and Local Authorities polls have changed Namibia’s political landscape. The new arrivals reduced the dominance of the ruling party, Swapo in the national, regional and local government structures. They broke the hegemony of the liberation movement in national politics, reduced the ruling party’s presidential candidates 86 percent in the previous elections in 2014 to around 56 percent in 2019, the took two regions from the ruling party and formed a coalition in Windhoek to govern the capital.

But, the question is, will they be able to repeat and sustain their 2019 and 2020 elections, judging from the infighting we witness.

Just a year into taking over the municipalities of Keetmanshoop, the seat of the Karas Regional Council and Mariental, the capital of the Hardap Region, the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) ran into internal leadership wrangling that include the recall some councillors, who claim to be victimised because of their outspokenness. LPM have accused them of mingling and sharing party information with those who would want to see the downfall of the party. Many of the party officials have been accused mainly of allegedly working with other forces to kill the party. Some party functionaries have been fired with cases ending up in courts. The courts have become the arbiters in internal party problems, instead of the party using its disciplinary policies to correct behaviour of its activists.

Courts intervening in political party disciplinary issues show that the party either does not have internal mechanisms to deal with such issues or is unable to use them. It is important that political parties develop internal measures to deal and amicably resolve conflicts in the party. This goes to all new formations, who were borne out of frustration with the Swapo Party’s alleged autocratic ways of dealing with discontent in the party.

It is not only LPM who had its share of internal fights with accusations flying high about people planted by Swapo. Independent Patriots for Change also experienced the same. After a protracted fight, IPC eventually fired and withdrew the chairperson of the Erongo Regional Council, Ciske Howard-Smith. During the back-and-forths between herself and the IPC leadership, Howard-Smith accused founder and party leader, Dr Panduleni Itula of running the party autocratically just like Swapo. IPC also saw the resignation of one of its founding members and the Windhoek municipality councillor Philemon Hambuda, which to many was a blow to the party, as Howard-Smith’s expulsion would be a setback for the party in the Swakopmund Constituency and also the white vote.

The by-election in Swakopmund next month will be a litmus test for the ‘new kids on the block’ and IPC in particular, if they will be able to retain the constituency in view of the internal wranglings that have beset the party since its good performance in the 2020 Regional and Local Government elections.

The new political formations such as LPM, IPC and the Affirmative Repositioning movement were a breeze of fresh air in Namibian politics, and it would be disappointing to see them disappear like those who came before them and were born from Swapo’s womb. If multi-party democracy is to survive and sustained in the country, the leaders of these parties must ensure their longevity, through protecting, nurturing and growing their flock.

Maturity is required of the leadership in the party and address and resolve conflict instead of describing these voices as those of ‘’planted operatives’’ (Job Amupanda) and as approaching their ‘’political mandate with a particular sense of carelessness and intellectual fatigue’’ (LPM).

The mission of players in a multi-party democracy is to carve out a space and play an active constructive role on the political landscape for the public good.

Serving the people and delivering improved services for them is certainly bigger than personal fights for positions among the leaders. Our parliament, regional councils and local authorities have been vibrant and sites of informative intellectual debates, which have awakened people’s interest in national politics.

The performance of these formations in elections have also jolted the ruling party into action as its political hegemony and space is now threatened, something that is good for the country’s democracy.

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