Analysts predict a dramatic election year
Experts speaking on Namibia’s political climate are predicting an action-packed year in politics as parties gun for elections set to install the next presidency amidst economic tough times.
Central to this year’s campaign trail will be the issue of how best to steer the country from economic collapse, political analysts reasoned, adding that McHenry Venaani’s Popular Democratic Party will emerge as one of the strongest contenders in this debate.
Analyst Hoze Riruako predicted that the ruling Swapo Party is set to bear the brunt of criticism and blame for the subnormal growth that has spooked Namibians for almost three financial years now.
He said this will be the case although woes within the economy come a long way before the current regime and will not be addressed overnight, as was the case with the American economy when Barak Obama took over in 2008.
The emergence of new parties will re-energize debate on critical issues, he said.
“The existing political parties will do everything in their power to make sure that they cement and solidify their support base and make the entry of the new parties as frustrating as possible,” said Riruako.
Parties like the newly birthed Landless People’s Movement and the official opposition have been predicted to have an easy run in the campaign as they managed to build good momentum and unmistakable visibility in 2018.
Prolific columnist and commentator, Ndumba Kamwanya sees PDM going in overdrive to expand and getting a foothold in Swapo strongholds, although he anticipates this to be a swim against the tide.
“PDM has worked very hard in terms of having their presence felt throughout the country. You have seen even Venaani delivering his new year’s message from a village in Katima. I don’t know whether it will pay off because of the history. You can change the name but the history remains,” said Kamwanya.
Kamwanya reinforced that Swapo will be haunted by latest scandals that made headlines in the previous year as well as the rest of Hage Geingob’s first tenure of office as opposition parties will use these to discredit the ruling party.
Such scandals include but are not limited to the fall of the SME bank which also saw the inclusion of big names who allegedly benefited from loans but failed to save the bank from collapse.
The recent acquisition of four farms by a Russian Billionaire will also form part of the opposition armoury against Swapo as well as the failure to directly address the concerns to do with ancestral land, experts predicted.
Kamwanya submitted that a major part of the action will play out right within the yard of Swapo itself as he foresees the two rival factions, Team Swapo and Team Harambee, trying to undermine each other ahead of polls.
“What I am watching is how Swapo is going to deal with internal issues. The two camps still remain a big issue and I am suspecting that Team Swapo is working hard behind the scene to re-emerge when they will be electing people contesting for the elections,” said the analyst.
Intra-party fighting will rip through other parties like Nudo which Riruako sees as suffering a leadership crisis owing to rival factions and the same goes for the Workers Revolutionary Party.
Both parties are locked in court battles likely to run into the campaigns and beyond the elections, if they don’t reach a compromise.
In spite of a generally observed silence mode within the public spotlight except in parliamentary proceedings which are rarely followed by the majority, an array of other political parties will suddenly come out in the open and add to the campaign fray, analysts foresee.
Kamwanya added that one of the major highlights will be that of parties jostling to promise what they cannot deliver.
As far as the politics of semantics is concerned, Kamwanya did not shy away from submitting that Geingob’s Harambee catch-word will fail to retain relevance considering the many promises that failed to come to fruition.
“You can see that even in his new year’s message he did not talk about Harambee and that is for a good reason. I think we are seeing the Harambee fading from the public’s eye,” he said.
The Harambee vision has been stunned in the very first round of the Geingob presidency by a recession that caught the country unprepared although efforts to contain the situation via austerity stood out.
Kamwanya suspects that on the economic front, things will get harder which will see parties raising issues on whether the government is interested in proffering workable solutions.
Geingob has already declared 2019 as the year of accountability and analysts say they are watching what this will translate to.
Despite the economic slideshows, think tanks and economists at PSG Namibia have predicted a Swapo victory which translates to Geingob being well set to finish both terms as is the trend within the office of the presidency.