Hail democratic pluralism, checkmate development

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Which way now? Yours Truly Ideologically cannot but muse in the aftermath of the Regional and Local Authority Elections results, which by any means have not been conclusive in terms of any party winning a majority in most of the regional and local authority councils,

The more things change (or seems to change), the more they remain the same. Yours Truly Ideologically observed in the last installment. Similarly the results cannot but invoke and echo same feelings. Because as alluded to in the opening paragraph, they are inconclusive. Yes, the voters may have spoken. But what exactly have they said? Because from the results it is very difficult to decipher what the voters may necessarily have said, if indeed we deduce and assume they have spoken. Have they protested, and against what? Have they chosen, what? Have they been disillusioned, by what? Have they been disgruntled, disappointed, by and in what? Have they voted for change? What kind of change because there are many unexplained variables and factors? Besides on face value, there’s is hardly a way of telling beyond mere disillusionment, disappointment and disgruntlement, what change voters may have voted for.

Have they voted for multiparty democracy and pluralism? If yes, can this be consonant to and parallel with progress and development? Because political pluralism cannot and should not be intrinsic to itself but a means to a transitional end, being the satisfaction of especially the basic and immediate needs of the people,particularly the downtrodden and the wretched of the earth, foremost among them the working class, in the interim.

Thus while one may give the parties who made some electoral gains, and thus now have seats on the regional and local authority councils credit, the litmus test of such victories are not crude results, but what the various political parties, independent candidates and associations can now practically harness and do with such seats. Mindful and cognisant of the practical realities on the ground, both in terms of the material conditions of the people on the ground, and the financial and political realities.

The material conditions of the people on the ground may not be difficult to see and/or discern. Because of all those who partook in the elections must have been aware of the glaring squalor and poverty in communities. Which they proffered to alleviate, if not eradicate.

But the tricky part is the financial and political side of the equation. It is good for democracy for more political formations and ratepayer associations to gain constituencies and seats on any local authority for increased political balance. However the flipside of this is the financial wherewithal to make good on the promises to the voters. For the constituencies, yes, there may be budgetary allocations from the central government to the regions. In this regard one cannot but appreciate the changed political make-up of such regional councils. Pluralism may now mean more transparency and accountability. But one needs also to be cautious about the budgetary allocation by central government and the requisite flow of the much-needed financial injections from the central government. The pronouncements of some high-ranking governing Swapo Party of Namibia’s office bearers in this regard, to the effect as to who is still pulling the financial strings, is an open secret. This is as much as one would want to

be believe these office bearers are aware of the central government’s fiduciary responsibility to regional authorities. But there may be much to the pronouncements of the Swapo Party officials than meets the eye. This is a reality those who may be excited about their electoral gains, cannot ignore before the beginning of hopefully, business unusual.

There is the anecdotal experience of the Otjombinde Constituency councilor, Katjanaa Kaurivi, who albeit some inhabitants did not perform. Granted, but why not? Could there not have debilitating circumstances, personal and otherwise, including a deliberate ploy by the then Swapo Party dominated Omaheke Regional Council, not to allow him any semblance and/or pretense of developing the constituency to punish him for having gone solo? Certainly other independent councilors can take a page or two from his experience book. Not to mention the political-tribal shenanigans which have been very much part of the elections in this constituency year in and year out.

Likewise, there are those who may be excited with having retained their constituencies and seats on local authorities. Such retention cannot be intrinsic to self but informed by performance. A performance which on balance has been far few and in between, safe for the habitual self-glorification regarding performance and achievement.

Last but by no means the least, surely the question of the ideological disposition of those who have gained seats can also determine the meaningfulness of their gains. And in this regard, the suspects are as obvious as they are endless. Can one really expect realistic horse trading from such an ideologically eclectic lot to allow for qualityservice delivery? One can only wait and see! The election results may have been good for democratic pluralism but checkmate service delivery and development.

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