Needed: Checks and balances

04 December 2018 | Columns

With earnest campaigning for the 2019 general elections set to kick off after the festive season, Swapo is yet to fully recover from the hangovers of its fiery 2017 elective congress that pitted Team Swapo against Team Harambee.

President Hage Geingob says after positions were procedurally contested - and won - at last year's sixth ordinary Swapo congress, it is time for these factions to bury the hatchet and move forward in the interest of the country.

Speaking at the party's extraordinary congress over the weekend, Geingob said the party gives the impression that it is at war with itself, “Swapo against Swapo and comrade against comrade”.

“I don't believe that,” Geingob said, while shooting down a request by those who had failed to clinch positions at last year's congress to have a platform availed to them to state their cases.

Geingob said the 2017 congress, as the “people's court”, had made its decision.

“[It] is easier for all to rally behind a winner if contestants, during the period of campaigning, played the ball and not the player,” Geingob said.

These are unsurprising comments, given that Geingob and his Harambee team need Team Swapo supporters to campaign effectively for the party next year.

The lack of unity thus threatens the party's stranglehold on electoral hegemony and is a threat to Geingob positioning his successor.

What remains to be seen is whether this internal Swapo wrangling can be effectively utilised by the opposition, which remains fragmented.

What would be good for the country is an opposition that is able to make inroads into Swapo's traditional support base, in the interest of growing democracy in the country.

Namibia is, essentially, at present a one-party state, in which the political elite operate with impunity.

What is needed is for a vibrant democracy to emerge, where the limitation of power results in the appropriate checks and balances that can keep a future executive on its toes and acting in the interest of the many, and not the few.

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