Democracy cannot be imposed by force

28 November 2018 | Columns

The annual elections of local authority office-bearers have always sparked major controversy over the years. Desperate councillors usually go all out to lobby their political masters in the hope of either being appointed to serve as mayors or preside over the powerful management committee on town councils. This jostling for positions has always divided opinion and to an extent it has raised eyebrows, especially given the fact that the party leaders have a tendency of imposing their preferred candidates on the councillors. The culture of imposing candidates on elected councillors not only undermines what is supposed to be a democratic process, but also compromises the quality of leadership at the end of the day. The culture of Swapo to instruct regional leaders on who should be elected as mayor, deputy mayor, management committee chairperson, or simply an ordinary councillor, does not augur well for intra-party democracy. The elections of the Swapo top four and regional coordinators cannot be the sole criteria for judging intra-party democracy. Local authority councillors should therefore be given leeway to choose who they deem competent and fit to serve in the respective council roles. Obviously this must be done with clear accountability and performance measures in place to guard against corruption and other ills. This sort of 'guided democracy' has challenges of its own and can lead to unnecessary factional infighting, which at the end of day cripples service delivery.

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