Going too far hurts credibility

The claims by the vibrant politician Bernadus Swartbooi that Swapo wants to kill him are over-the-top and challenge his credibility.

Many in Namibia are depending on new firebrand politicians, including Swartbooi, to challenge sacred cows. People want them to question authority, give voice to the marginalized, and energize younger people. They are expected to force political debate into the 21st century, put the spotlight on those suffering in silence, and fearlessly call out corruption. But, statements from the Trump School of Demagoguery and Lunacy reflect poorly on the politicians who make them. Swartbooi’s ravings with no evidence or proof whatsoever about his life being under threat are from that school.

Credibility is the best armour for all who wish to lead. Specious claims reduce credibility. Swartbooi must check his wilder comments and stay in the moment.

Every healthy democracy needs vital, strong opposition voices. People are not lemmings and must not walk lock-step to the tune of one party. This is no longer the liberation struggle, but a 2020 economic struggle for the survival of the nation.

We need the trumpets of discord, like Swartbooi, to keep the leadership’s feet to the fire. We don’t need our conscience champions to sound like they are out of touch with reality.

All of those in politics must be dedicated to the constitution and to democracy in theory and in practice.

Swartbooi’s life is not in danger on any level; he is not that important. The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) and Swartbooi do not threaten anyone’s power base, money, physical lives, and self-identification. There are no mysterious people ‘out there’ who would have the capacity of causing him physical harm (and getting away with it).

Of course, there always are bent people in the general society who could try to do something unsanctioned, unexpected and criminal. These threats are always there. But, we remain unconvinced that any institution would have the capacity or interest in ending Swartbooi’s life.

This is not a political novel or a script headed for Netflix. Any talk of some ‘mysterious’ entities scheming to do harm to Swartbooi specifically, leads us to giggle, not gasp in shock.

The good news is that his claim is not a part of reality in the political battlefields in the Land of the Brave. There are no right or left-wing death squads or hired international assassins or Swapo thugs storming the Bastille of Opposition Party headquarters.

It was the Boers (and their stooges) in the previous dispensation that was monstrous enough to maliciously end the lives of those they feared. Namibia’s ageing political movers-and-shakers are not the immoral sadists of the previous apartheid/colonial security apparatus.

People shouting wild comments from the podium to capture headlines are amateurs. They have not done homework about how to make productive changes in Namibia. They have done no research on the demographics of their audience. Therefore, they get caught up in sophomoric rabble-rousing which they think makes them popular. It doesn’t; it makes the public question their credibility or have a good laugh.

One of the best statements made in the elections came from Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo. He refuted claims that Swapo has done nothing for the betterment of Namibia since they came to power. He gave economic growth statistics in various sectors showing that growth. He spoke of how planning and strategies yet to be completed will work to revive the economy. Whether you agree with his points or not, that is how a political argument is supposed to be made during a campaign.

When the opposition spends their speech time only reacting to the ruling party, they are admitting they have nothing else to offer. When the ruling party spends their podium time rehashing liberation movement clichés, they are admitting that they have no new ideas.

This campaign season is short on PLANS with timelines and budgets on various aspects of the economic recovery of Namibia. Neither side is doing a good job at staying credible and relevant during a time of crisis. Don’t go too far in speeches; it damages the credibility of the speaker.

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