Competition is good for democracy

05 June 2019 | Columns

It is almost certain that two or three independent candidates are likely to participate in the presidential elections later this year. The independent candidate debate has been on everyone's lips since it was ignited by Swapo member Panduleni Itula earlier this year. Itula, who has since confirmed his candidacy, argued in a 19-page document that it was legally possible for an independent candidate to run for president. He explained, among other requirements, that such a candidate should be a registered voter and be nominated and supported by at least 500 registered voters per region. This means that an independent candidate should obtain a total of 7 000 nominations from registered voters. The brouhaha concerning independent candidates was further heightened when 27-year-old Angelina Immanuel, albeit not aligned to any political party, decided to stand as an independent in next week's Ondangwa Urban by-election. The idea is seemingly gaining traction, with former NUNW boss Evilastus Kaaronda also expected to announce his presidential ambitions next week Sunday, while talk is also rife that former Nipam executive director Joseph Diescho, will also throw his hat into the ring at a later stage. For neutral observers, the mere fact that more and more people are considering running for office is in itself democracy at play. And for a nation like Namibia, which is not yet known for issue-based politics, the upcoming elections will present the opportunity for the battle of ideas - something that has been lacking in the body politic of this nation. Political competition may not necessarily be cut-throat in our country, which for years has been beset by corruption and lack of transparency and accountability, among many other challenges, but a contested race will surely result in parties coming out of their cocoons and actually listening to voters. Citizens should no longer hear the same promises repeatedly without seeing any tangible results. Competition is good for democracy.