THE underlining factor here is that, those who are seeking to be elected to the highest office of the land have to pay the highest price and sacrifices by marketing themselves to the would-be electorate. In the American politics, the only moment we have seen the involvement of other political leaders, was after the endorsement and nominations of those candidates. It is again highly likely that public interventions for political gains shall be minimal as we go as the rest will be left to the aspirants themselves and their running mates.
On the recent concluded Local elections and political campaign in South Africa, apart from the Party leaders who were out to introduce their party candidates, Political Party’s candidates have been holding public meetings with their would-be electorate to communicating what they intent to deliver once elected to power. During the public meetings, the would-be elected political leaders have been faced with questions. Even members from the same party have to question their candidates seeking an assurance about their goals and objectives once voted to the office. This process of openness shall make political leaders accountable once elected to office of which failure to deliver would have political repercussions. In the event of political campaign in South Africa, those who were aiming to be elected have played pivotal political roles to secure their political seats.
The same happened in United Kingdom after the resignation of the Prime Minister caused by what they term as BREXIT. The result of BREXIT caused political turmoil to the extent that both Conservative and Labour parties had to go through inner political squabbles for the high positions. It was conducted in such a way that individual political leaders who were vying for those high positions had to do that for themselves. If one takes a close look on those political landscapes that I gave as fresh examples, there is no political wheelbarrowing. It is also against that backdrop that the would-be political leaders who are vying for political power will have to pay the political price tags of which the political leaders must stand ready to pay. I am quite aware that democracy is not copy and paste system. It a political system particularly adopted by politicians presumably after all political and democratic considerations were made. However, in the context of democratic setting in Namibia, it seems as if our democracy is more of wheelbarrowing than qualifications. That is so because our political campaigns are exclusively conducted by political parties for the would-be elected leaders who are seeking for their elections. Even though it is an accepted democratic and political norm, it can as well be viewed as a democratic and political flaw. Our political election for example to the National Assembly is based on proportional representation of which the whole country is a single constituency. Hence a party list system. In this instance, the political campaigns shall squarely base on party lists and not on individuals. That by its setting made it impossible for members to campaign for themselves. That means, when it is a campaign period, the most senior political leaders will go out soliciting political support for their political parties and not necessarily for individuals. On the hand, both the regional and local elections are based on individuals. Yet, their campaigns are done by their political parties instead by those who are to be elected. One would argue further that, the political and historic reality in this country is that, none of our politicians do campaign for themselves and so nobody got elected directly. The only persons in our democracy who seek to be elected directly are the presidential aspirants who are vying to occupy the highest seat in government.
There are some fundamental democratic issues that are worth analysing. First, there are people in this country who have gone to polls to cast their votes yet they did not know those individual political leaders they are going to vote for. Secondly, there are people in this country who cast their votes without hearing any political word from those who are standing to be elected. Thirdly, the worst case scenario is where Governors are handpicked and appointed. If democracy is about elections and rule by people, where does the picking and appointment of Governors fit within the democratic setting? It is my understanding and rightly so that regional and local councillors as well as Governors were supposed to be accountable to people on day-to-day activities according to the democratic political structures. As councillors are supposed to be accountable to the electorate, in the absence of no messages before elections, what is their political agenda after elected to power? On the part of Governors, they are the appointees of the President. If democracy is about elections, is it still democracy when Governors are simply picked and appointed and not elected? That system of non-elected Governors makes them not accountable to the electorate whom they are ostensibly serving. It is a foregone conclusion that, because of the political parties’ driven campaigns, instead of those who are to be elected, there is no political vocabulary in this country of “Vote for Me” instead the political vocabulary is “Vote for the Party”. That process made the political situation very difficult for the electorate to held elected leaders accountable. Take the example of Governors who are never elected but appointed, how would the electorate call them to account for their poor performances should there be a need to do so? That is indeed a political vacuum, the way I look at it.
To prove the point, in the history of 26 years of independence, I cannot recall anybody in this country who was given a political red ticket by the electorate because of poor performance. That is so because the electorate may not have justifiable case to make as there are no political promises made by the elected leader. Someone may prove me wrong should there be a case that one or two elected leaders were given a political matching order by the electorate because that leader has failed to deliver promises to the expectation of the electorate. Suffice to say, our democratic system is about wheelbarrowing as opposed to appealing messages by the would-be elected leaders themselves. That in my view leaves an open-ended question of democratic and political accountability as much is into hands of the political parties to deal with the emerging political challenges. By implications, electorate do not have a major stake in the event where there is need for critical judgement caused by poor performance by the elected leader.
In order for democracy to function effectively and achieve set political strategies within the confines of democracy, it needs robust oversight mechanisms and watchdogs that are designed to make the elected toe the line. Among the most effective mechanisms to do that, is the electorate. By so doing, the power must be vested into the hands of the electorate. Leaders in every political party must prove that they possess the capability and ability to effectively deliver services and manage the affairs of their political parties.
It is therefore, very important to understand the essence and complexity of both leadership and management. Every structure needs effective leadership and management that are able and capable to propel that structure towards the accomplishment of set goals and objectives. The same applies to democratically elected political leaders. That is so because, democratic governance demands effective leadership and management as indispensable instruments that shall keep democratic governments moving. It is also undebatable reality that governments are established, designed and structured with purposes to achieve set goals and objectives.
… Continues next week
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015