The spate of strange and inappropriate comments from Swapo speakers on the campaign trail is embarrassing. The crowds listening to high public officials pontificate about their voting choices at the end of this month are not the same crowds that were listening to Swapo heroes in 1989. Swapo speakers must update themselves and not be so out of date.
Most of those in the crowds hearing these odd speeches were in kindergarten or not even born when such virulent, ‘anyone-not Swapo-is-an-enemy’ speeches were relevant. People in the voting mainstream don’t think like that anymore after 30 years of independence.
The ‘strange-speech’ rampage began with provocative and unnecessary comments by the Minister of Defence.
Then, the president of Swapo attracted huge negative blowback over comments made about white people ‘sabotaging’ Swapo.
There were several odd comments by Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah saying Namibia is too small for representative democracy. She believes that parties other than Swapo will ‘confuse’ the public; she believes the voters are too childlike to choose between ideas.
Then, retired military hero Martin Shalli makes negative headlines asking people to ‘cut the throats’ of those who leave the party. He threatened anyone who votes against Swapo. His honest and well-written apology immediately after is sufficient evidence that there was never any literal intent behind his words.
Now, we have Sophia Shaningwa on the podium. Her sweeping generalizations are not unexpected. She says that all who are opposed to Swapo are saboteurs that want to hurt Hage Geingob. This is typical campaign nonsense. But, it is grossly out of date.
Those in Swapo searching for votes must speak about their achievements. Tell the people what they would improve and how/when they would improve it. Name-calling, race-baiting, and liberation movement rabble-rousing will not win over voters of today.
Are Swapo speech writers totally unaware that the average potential voter out there is hurting financially? They want to know when they will get their jobs back. They want to know when all NSFAF loans will be converted to grants. They want to know when hospitals will have enough doctors, nurses and medicines. They want to know when their kids will stop failing exams and be able to go to college. They want another round of the N$750 emergency grant. They want an increase to the Old Age Pension. They are not interested in what whites are doing or what whites have. And they are not quite sure anymore who the ‘enemy’ is.
Many of the independent candidates running for office are actually from those areas; they are people that many in the crowd know personally. They are not evil, apartheid-loving enemies that want to hurt Hage Geingob. Those listening to the speeches do not agree to slit the throats of people who go against Swapo.
Swapo should spend more time getting its base out to vote. Typically, people who are registered don’t show up to vote in the regional ballots. The parties and individuals that will do well will have armies of their followers standing in lines at the polls on Election Day.
The campaign crowds in 2020 are not the memes and tates and radical students in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s just before independence. That constituency base is now in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and cannot stand up long enough to listen to long-winded speeches in the heat.
Those who will come out to vote are better educated than those in rural areas in 1990. They are on social media constantly (when they have money for data) and they speak on their phones to one another (when they can afford airtime). They are angry, unemployed, under-educated, and under-serviced.
They are jealous of others getting rich on corruption. They dislike the black fat cats with fancy homes, nice cars and jobs for the families of ministers. They see the well-built farms with fat cattle and small stock and access to water and grazing for Swapo leaders, while they feel that they have nothing. Speeches given must address this reality.
Find that Swapo magic again. Address the needs of ordinary people from THEIR point of view.