Reaping the whirlwind

14 January 2020 | Opinion

Political parties often only see the writing on the wall when their backs are pressed up against it.

So it remains unsurprising that Namibia's ruling party has so far failed to obtain an independent and frank assessment on why its share of the vote plummeted from 80% in 2014 to 65% last year, shattering its two-thirds majority.

The ruling party will have 14 fewer seats in the National Assembly when the new parliament is sworn in later this year. Its presidential candidate Hage Geingob shed nearly 30% of his vote compared to 2014, as the emergence of an independent candidate, previously aligned to a faction within the party, wreaked havoc in the presidential poll. In fact, the outcome is still embroiled in legal contestation, with the matter to coming before the Supreme Court on Friday.

Of course, intraparty infighting is not the only reason why Swapo is teetering. The stench of corruption and nepotism, which has been swirling around its head for some years, has become a permanent whiff, courtesy of the so-called Fishrot scandal.

The myriad of challenges facing ordinary Namibians, while some feast on the spoils of their loot, has become a beacon of the sad state of affairs in our young nation.

Yet, the hangover of the 2017 Swapo congress seems to have become a permanent fixture, given the rhetoric and political manoeuvring deployed.

If one casts their mind back, it was principally the all-or-nothing strategies used that have put the ruling party on the back foot, as it limps into the regional and local authority elections this year.

It was, after all, Geingob who made it clear that he could only work with his slate, and that the other faction, known as Team Swapo, was most unwelcome in any top leadership position.

This has come back to bite the president, who has already reaped the whirlwind in the presidential election last year, and may be unlikely to be in a position to anoint a successor at the next congress in 2022.

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