‘Adolescent’ Namibian opposition can learn from Zambia
17 August 2021 | Africa
Experts have cautioned that the election outcome in Zambia is likely to spill over to Namibia, though not as soon as the next elections, given the ‘adolescent’ behaviour of alternative political movements.
After running for office for the sixth time, opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema finally won the Zambian elections, beating his main challenger, outgoing president Edgar Lungu.
Veteran politician and former prime minister Nahas Angula said this result was driven by despair caused by high youth unemployment and increasing poverty aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“That was expected for those of us who followed what happened. Namibia is not immune to that as well. When people get desperate, they will make decisions of their own just to make sure those who are perceived to have caused desperation will have a political price to pay. If you see the condition of our young people now, they are more or less in the same boat,” he said.
Angula, who studied and lived in Zambia, however, said Namibia’s next elections are likely to result in a political coalition and not as drastic a result as in Zambia.
“The problem is that here in Namibia there are few alternatives and in Zambia they have alternatives. You need some solid choices. Hichilema has lost elections like five times, but he struggled on. With our politicians here, some characters are fighting each other in Parliament, behaving like adolescents.
“People have huge issues and you need solid choices to bet on. That is why you hear Namibians saying the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know,” he said.
Meanwhile, political analyst Graham Hopwood argued that the voting trend in Zambia differs from Namibia because of that country’s founding president Kenneth Kaunda and the United National Independence Party’s (UNIP) decision to accept defeat in 1992.
According to him, this resulted in a culture of regular changes in parties and presidents in power taking root in Zambia.
“As a result, they have now had three such changes brought about by elections. Zanu-PF did not replicate Kaunda's wisdom in accepting defeat in Zimbabwe and went on to blatantly rig several elections to keep the MDC out of power. Because Swapo has remained the most popular party in Namibia, we haven't yet had a close election since independence,” he said.
“Hopefully, if the opposition did ever mount a serious challenge, we would follow Kaunda's example rather than Mugabe's,” Hopwood added.