THE state of opposition politics in Namibia is a serious cause for concern for our young democracy.
While the Constitution guarantees a multiparty democracy, Namibia remains a “one dominant party” system and the opposition parties have been weakening over the years providing little, if any, challenge to the ruling SWAPO party. This is a fact that SWAPO is well aware of and one that has undoubtedly created a sense of complacency in the ruling party.
Instead of ensuring that they keep the ruling party government in check and ensure that it is accountable to the people, opposition parties have been bogged down in internal party power squabbles which have seen some spend their scarce resources and time on court battles.
Recently, Rally for Democracy Party (RDP) leader Jeremiah Nambinga quit the party following protracted internal squabbles, which ended in the High Court and crippled the party’s functionality.
It’s shameful for the opposition to focus on trivial internal leadership or faction fights, while neglecting their role of keeping the ruling party accountable and also taking part in Parliamentary debates that ensure Namibia has thorough and effective laws.
The opposition has been gradually losing seats in Parliament and other key public bodies as they fail to appeal to the wider electorate. Perhaps time has come for the opposition parties to consider pooling their resources and create a single, effective opposition. It is without a doubt that the current ineffective opposition doesn’t give SWAPO any sleepless nights.
Times have changed and the opposition needs to adjust to the current political climate in order to become relevant. The electorate has become more enlightened and now demands clear direction and clear principles from political parties. Gone are the days when the opposition can simply be opposition without justifying their opposition.
Most political parties active in the country are historical parties – the ruling SWAPO party, Swanu, the Popular Democratic Movement (formerly DTA) and the United Democratic Front (UDF). Prior to independence most of these parties shared a common goal – that of liberating Namibia from colonial oppression.
But post-independence there has been a shift in the agenda of most of these political parties. With SWAPO as the party in power, the role of the opposition players is to keep the ruling party accountable. However, this task seems to have escaped the opposition and is being taken up by new pressure groups, such as the Job Amupanda-led Affirmative Repositioning activists group.
It’s high time the Namibian opposition parties went back to the drawing board to assess their role in the country’s political arena. It is clear that their current set up and manifestos no longer appeal to the larger part of the electorate and are set to diminish their support base and seats in Parliament should they continue on their current path.
It’s time they set aside their squabbling and focus on their role of safeguarding democratic principles in the Land of the Brave. Although Namibia has an active multi-party system, currently the opposition has very little effect on the manner in which SWAPO governs the country.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015