Last week Namibia witnessed the formation of yet another political party in the thriving 24 year democracy. Need not to say the formation of the political grouping (Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters, NEEF) has the political mantle to stomach their plans or they are just another loud political fart whose odour will soon vanish into thin air writes The Villager Editor Tiri Masawi.
Clad in red overalls and red barrettes reminiscent of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by firebrand politician Julius Malema, the new Namibian red army claims they stand against capitalism and disempowering of the poor Namibian.
The political movement led by former Swapo member Epafras Mukwiilongo who has confirmed himself as Commander in Chief of NEEF and former Congress of Democrats (CoD) youth leader Kalimbo Iipumbu, will have exactly six months just like Malema to make an impression on the electorate before the November election.
There are obviously questions that are hanging and need to be answered from them. These include: Is Namibia ready for a left wing radical movement?, Does the political landscape in Namibia have space for another political party and obviously do Namibians have any reason of deserting Swapo that they have faithfully supported with all their hearts in the past 24 years of independence?
What works for Jim won’t work for Peter in politics
NEEF wants to see Namibians being given a meaningful role in the mainstream economy and claims that the ruling party has not done enough to vanish the exploits of capitalism on Namibian people since independence.
On the other hand their inspires in South Africa (EFF) are also fighting for nationalisation of mines and economic empowerment of the black folk of that country.
With such ambitious plans on the ground a political party especially one that comes into the liberal political landscape in Namibia needs to be original and not ride on the wave of Malema’s success.
Latest economic figures by the Namibian Statistics Agency indicate that although Government (Swapo led) still battles inequality and disparities in wealth distribution enough ground has been covered in improving lives of many. In fact the hard-core facts are that in 2000 70% of Namibians were living in poverty and now only 28% of the population is in that predicament. This is good and has potential to go better, so what is it that will create discontent in the masses about a government that is on track.
That background alone needs to give NEEF a wink that sometimes politics needs original ideas and taking what worked for Malema in South Africa to Namibia could be the wrong way of going about their plans which on paper do sound logical.
Even Swapo Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba does not seem to have a chill down his spine after the formation of the party. He told a local daily last week that, “We are never threatened by anyone. We liberated this country. Let them imitate unreliable politicians. They have nothing to offer”.
Perhaps that loaded statement alone is a clear indication to NEEF that the ruling party is the revolutionary party in the country and battling against such dominance needs any opposition politician to pull a cat under the rug.
Even Malema who managed to garner support of a population that is almost that of Namibia still could not change the hold of the revolutionary ANC on the electorate. In fact he seems to have given the ANC another good reason to sing umshini wami (my machine gun) in order to find their missing link to the disgruntled South African.
Malema is one of those political characters who you would love or hate but he sometimes makes sense. However the ANC on the other hand just like Swapo in Namibia have created concrete roots with the grass roots and middle class and for one to loosen such a grip you might need more than just red outfits and political rhetoric.
NEEF has a mountain to climb in trying to sway the vote from the veterans of Swapo who like any other revolutionary party in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) brought the fruits of independence, political freedom and many opportunities to the doors of its people through the barrel.
The regional experience
Naturally the Sadc region is one very stable economic and political platform in Africa but it is also one where political ideas of opposition parties are just but that.
The region has 15 members and 13 of those member states are governed by liberation movements. These are ANC of South Africa, Swapo of Namibia, Zanu PF of Zimbabwe, Chama-chama pindutsi of Tanzania, Frelimo of Mozambique to mention but a few.
This is one region where the revolutionary parties are brothers in thinking and also from the trenches. They are so intertwined that even when one is about to lose the grip they stand with each other until the wave subsides.
Even so now these revolutionary parties they meet at an annual basis to strategize and share notes making them even stronger. Revolutionary parties in the region are stronger than ever especially after that Zimbabwean scare and the mishaps in Zambia where they lost ground. Their umbilical connection makes it difficult for new entrants such as NEEF to ride on political rhetoric.
In Zimbabwe for instance where at some point during the hyper inflationary tenure the MDC was formed and then it looked more practical that Zanu PF would lose power to a different mind but that has not happened 15 years on.
In South Africa Malema sang all the right songs, from Government’s corruption to President Zuma’s Nkandla scandals but ANC is still on the hold of power and he only has 25 seats in parliament (not bad though but can NEFF steal 25 seats from Swapo).
In Mozambique Alfonso Dhlakama even took his opposition party into the bush to fight a war but still Frelimo is in power.
Perhaps for NEFF those are just a few examples showing that even in Namibia, Swapo might have its shortcomings like any other political party but, is the ground ripe for left wing movements or the ordinary Namibian is not ready to be swayed?
Never underestimate a politician
Perhaps the odds might not be on Mukwiilongo and company’s side but wonders do happen in politics. Only time will tell whether the left wing movement will make a dent in the Namibian political industry. If it happens it could be one of those days when all that have lived in this region would have forgotten how these liberation movements literally brought liberty to everyone’s door.
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