Principles above personalities

25 October 2019 | Columns

The build-up to next month's elections serves as a stern litmus test of character for many a politician. This is a window through which contenders and pretenders will be pulled apart in spectacular fashion.

We are talking about those who thrive on name-calling instead of advancing the gospel of how they'll change the face of Namibia if elected. This is no longer the time to ask people to “respect elders” who, more often than not, do nothing to warrant the respect they are demanding.

Inevitably, there will be conniving and mudslinging, as is the characteristic of Namibian politics. It is no longer just between political opponents housed in rival parties. It is now occurring inside parties, where factionalism has taken a strong hold.

Such factions are not formed around principles or ideologies. They are formed out of greed and contestation for parochial and nefarious ends.

Swapo, our governing party, has not been able to rid itself of camps since 2012. It has been seven years of intra-party war, rooted in the lust to control the body and soul of once a thriving revolutionary movement.

Swapo's offspring, the RDP, is even worse. We are on the eve of a general election next month and RDP factions are tearing each other to shreds over who should sit on its throne.

There is a strong sense that the RDP factions are headed for court as tension intensifies ahead of the elections. It's a dog-eats-dog affair in a once promising party that many thought threatened Swapo's hegemony.

Leather was almost traded at the Nudo congress this year, with members literally threatening to beat up their own comrades over vacant posts in the party. Every delegate knew how close they were to securing well-paying jobs as members of parliament, if they occupy at least the top three positions.

None of these silly arguments are about the welfare of the general populace. It's not about how to make the lives of voters better, but how thicker the butter on their bread should be.

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