AS the Swapo Congress battle heats up, amid allegations of irregularities, in terms of the ongoing district and regional delegate elections, and so far unsubstantiated reports of vote-buying, the spectre of so-called slate politics looms large in the ruling party.
And this has massive implications for a country that is in the midst of a battle against poverty, unemployment and corruption, while keeping the global credit agencies at bay.
By definition a slate is simply a list of candidates to be considered for nomination by a political party for elections, appointments or the like.
However, this definition beguiles what slate politics means in the context of a party congress.
From a Swapo perspective, a slate can be defined as a list of candidates to be nominated by particular factions for election into the top echelons of the party.
Slates, by their very definition in contemporary politics, encourage a position where leaders are not looked at on their merits, but whether they support a certain faction or can push certain business interests; in other words, whether they can get their grouping to the feeding trough of government tenders.
Of course, in the Swapo context, many names are being bandied around by various factions, to take up leadership positions.
However, from the perspective of ordinary Namibians, we should worry about how internal Swapo slate politics affects the current government, given that there has been talk of challenging President Hage Geingob for the leadership of the party.
Although Geingob’s current presidential term is not in danger, if a slate opposed to him either defeats him in the Swapo presidential race in November or manages to install a top leadership, including a vice-president, secretary-general and deputy secretary-general, as well as a central committee and politburo, who are antagonistic to the sitting president and his policies, the nation is likely heading for massive upheaval.
This is because the plan is likely to have Geingob stand uncontested at the ruling party congress, but create a scenario where the new masters of the party structures make his life unbearable, including through forcing him to make changes to his Cabinet, to remove who the opposing camp may see as his allies.
These Cabinet and other changes are likely to be driven by malice and self-interest, at the expense of the current fiscal discipline and austerity measures that are sailing Namibia through the most difficult and troubling economic waters it has come across as a young democracy.
We can ill-afford a scenario, as in South Africa, where the economic stability of our nation is rocked and sunk by ill-advised movements in government, including through shocking reshuffles, driven by what is known as State capture in the neighbouring country.
For the next five years, these top positions in Swapo, and specifically the vice-president, who will be well-positioned to take over the reins of the country, when Geingob eventually retires, needs to be filled by men and women who put their country first, and not a slate that has come together along party factional lines.
Hence, going forward, if we are serious about having capable people in relevant positions in charge of national matters, political slates must be challenged and overcome.
Each Swapo leader, who will be chosen in November, and who will be positioned to play a role in government and other spheres going forward, will need to be of the highest quality, and should be chosen on merit and performance, and not because they are part of a faction.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015