THE politics of patronage runs deep in the Swapo party and as agenda 2017 draws near; recurring plots and counterplots appear to have contributed to an extreme divisiveness and are beginning to spawn challenges within the ruling party.
Having exposed rampant vote buying from regional coordinators by an elite group of tenderpreneurs in our last editorial, Confidente has also unearthed a plot to eliminate Eunice Ipinge from the upcoming woman’s council congress in which she is pitted against Petrina Haingura for the secretary of Swapo woman’s council post.
With Ipinge having been nominated by 10 regions during the SPWC central committee meeting that paves the way for the congress in comparison to Haingura’s three nominations from three regions out of 14 regions, it is disturbing that some top party leaders (known to Confidente) have decided to connive against Ipinge holding several meetings in plots to re-position Haingura for outright victory.
Without mentioning names, this publication can reveal that in one of the meetings a bumper attendance of 27 senior Swapo members, 11 members of the Namibian Central Intelligence Services (NCIS), some governors and some councillors from the all 14 regions of Namibia made an effort to sit and simply strategise to knock Ipinge off her perch.
The analysis of this ordeal considers a party system in which, given the existence of informal organisations within the party, the party has fuelled a system in which the party is fast becoming one that not only does not politically represent the desires and needs of the voters, but one that is moulding a clientelistic structure.
As a starting point, we recognise on the one hand that clientelism has been a prominent characteristic of congress politics in the ruling party. There is a reason vote-buying is illegal in every democracy; it usurps democracy and encourages the rule of the well-resourced, the rich, or the one percent.
Most importantly, these observations seen in Swapo in the run up to the 2017 congress bring light to the consequences of specific campaigning strategies by incumbent vs. challenger politicians. The current results as indicated by the plot to oust a popular Ipinge show that the accessibility of clientelistic goods and associated credibility of clientelistic appeals may be behind a crucial effect on voting behaviour. More specifically, incumbent candidates seem to have an advantage in adopting clientelistic platforms, most probably by displaying control of public allocations and resources before the elections.
Essentially at this stage, the Swapo leadership must speak out against this political clientelism that only appears at the detriment of candidates that in power or those financial backing from well-wishers carrying hidden agendas that like a cancer will eventually cut through the party structures. Politics of popularity in a democratic Namibia must be allowed to prevail if we are to progress on the political front.
Conclusively, as the ruling party, Swapo sets precedence of the electoral landscape of the country and therefore if Namibia is to become a perfect example of a politically upright country, it must get rid of nickle-and-dime political patronage, such as vote-buying, and move towards far teaching social engineering.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015