Diescho’s Dictum: More questions than answers

Prof Joseph Diescho

This year will be remembered as a watershed year in terms of the configurations of our political party life. There is hardly any opposition to the governing party, and what is left of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the Congress of Democrats (CoD) the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) now the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) the South West Africa National Union (SWANU), the Republican Party (RP) and other smaller interest groups that humour themselves as political parties is to all intents and purposes games of not-so-like-minded people with excessive political ambitions, but with no thought-through alternatives to offer to the voters of the Land of the Brave.

We are stuck with old answers!

By the looks of things, the top leaders of these parties serve them as long as they are at the top and as soon as they are dislodged by age or other factors, they run back to Swapo, understandably to secure a resting place at the Heroes Acre. This is very sad indeed as the poor followers of these tombstone seekers are left with a deep apathy to participate in genuine electoral democracy. This leaves the country with only one credible lot, the ruling party Swapo.

But Swapo itself will no longer be the same after this year’s developments which culminated in the epoch making elective congress that left Namibia not only as One Party or Dominant Party state but practically a One Man Show from now onwards. President Geingob needs all our support after he was given an overwhelming mandate to do as he pleases and as he will place for the next two years, till the time of the Pot in 2019.

By all accounts the President will be a very lonely man—with a very mediocre central committee (CC) and a political bureau of yes-folks, who by their very character and non-experience in managing the affairs of a liberation movement turned political party are just not the right mix to help him. These men and women, a good number of them high school drop-outs who cannot find employment elsewhere cannot be expected to appreciate President Geingob’s agenda of marrying continuity with change on the one hand and combating poverty to create a model nation in Afrika on the other.

The few god ones in both the CC and PB will have to spend most of their time hand-holding the rest just to understand what is at stake. Compare our situation to the Chinese ruling class where all the men in the political bureau and its structures are very few, all of whom have gone through the structures of the party and have been schooled in party discipline and ideological orientation towards the Chinese people and the world in which China is to reposition itself. In essence each one of the members of the political bureau of China is ready to take over the stewardship of that country at any time!

The challenges of governing Namibia going forward are more severe than they have ever been. Instead of finding fault with the leaders for this and that, let us work with the lessons we have learned, particularly by way of the elective congress of the only credible political party in the land.

Whether we like it or not, our reality is that Swapo is the only game in town. In all honesty, Namibia is Swapo and Swapo is Namibia. It is perhaps better to name the lessons we learned by way of posing the following questions:

* Was the way in which the campaign was conceived of and conducted, with so many candidates the only way to do it, and the only and/or best candidates in the party if the bone of contention was the redemption of the soul of the Swapo Party?

* Have we become a nation where political associations are no longer based upon like-mindedness around issues and programs but our hostility towards someone or some people?

* Knowing what was at stake, then why did we wait till the last minute to start the campaign?

* Is our national politics informed by rationality about issues and national interests or by temporal friendships and irrational bonds?

* Is the return of tribalism that we see NOT tribalism per se, or rather the manifestation of a lack of a national philosophy and the absence of champions of a uniting ideology whose leadership is monitored by a hierarchy of principles and values that in turn lift up the nation above the interests of individuals or pressure groups wherever they might be?

* Did this elective congress of our governing party not give the nation an assortment of half-educated, below mediocre and ideologically unsound people who are likely to be susceptible to being told what to think and do instead of leaders ready to act on their conscience based upon established norms, principles and values? In other words are the barbarians at the gate?

* Is it true that the politics of Namibia has become like FIFA where the bidder who promises the best rewards to the electors will have his name in the white envelope but that is pre-determined by the contents of the brown envelopes that are exchanged prior to the actual voting?

Is this not compounded in our situation by the fear factor, where the one with the most realistic threats of job security and insecurity and impact on people’s livelihood is the most likely automatic winner?

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