No permanent friends, just strategic allies

If one is to watch the political soap opera which has been unfolding between the crumbling former official opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and the ruling Swapo-Party, it would be a great deceit to believe that politics is a game of permanent friendship.

Perhaps the director of this soap opera would have done such a good job scripting reality that there would only be strategic alliances in the game of politics. True to the nature of cementing a hegemony, leaving a legacy and obviously sticking with the winning team, a couple of RDP stewards have made their biblical, prodigalson- like returns to Swapo, and whether the great trek back is done or is still to continue, only time will tell.

Perhaps no one guessed that Jesaya Nyamu or Hidipo Hamutenya would don the Swapo colours again, but life does have its surprises. And as unpredictable as tomorrow’s weather is, it has happened. Certainly, it will not be unheard of or far-fetched to imagine that the junior members of the onceresilient opposition party could as well make their way to Swapo.

Borrowing from one of the best writers, George Orwell, who said “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”, one really ever saw what was ahead of either HH or Nyamu’s nose. They all got into retirement from opposition politics, only to wake up the next morning donning a different political jersey and easily becoming the opposition to projects which they crafted themselves.

Indeed, such is politics, and not believing that it’s a dramatic game will only be being naïve. While one would like to question the idea behind these liberation icons making the great trek back to their initial party or the reasons associated with it, there is only one mother of all explanations: no one wants to die without a legacy. That is also inclusive of politicians. While politicians have perfected the art of making lies sound truthful and murder respectable while giving an appearance of solidarity to pure wind, they also need to be remembered for being part of a winning team.

Perhaps it will be mentioning the obvious to say since independence to date, Swapo seems to have been the winning team, while opposition parties somewhat played spectator in a game they ought to participate in. They certainly do not want to be divorced from the real power base. Indeed, they do not want to be away from the limelight for quite some time, and obviously they want history to remember them.

Ironically, history does not remember soldiers, it remembers the people with the real power, the kings and queens. So, one would not be naïve to blame the returnees to Swapo for wanting to be part of what is a supposed winning team. Indeed, their reasoning has been that the leadership of the party has changed, and the differences which created their disgruntlement were dealt with. Oh dear, what political rhetoric.

Reality, as stubborn as it can be, confirms that there was never a firm reason in leaving other than being disgruntled in the first place. Media headlines were indeed awash with news of returnees to the Swapo- Party, while the RDP maintains that they do not miss sell-outs. However, one reads a sign of a chilling spine within the opposition because if Swapo continues to swallow its children back to the fray, we might as well not be talking of any opposition from the RDP in the near future.

Once again, there is no political prophesy in this, but rather just mesmerisation from watching the political soap opera unfold. Perhaps confronting the elephant in the room, the question is with the level of name-calling which is in politics in Africa.

How will it thus pan out for those within the ruling party who have called their former comrades different names? Will this be the time that they swallow the humble political pie, and embrace their colleagues? The pendulum in such a scenario swings both ways. What will those who are coming back today say to those within the ruling party whom they have also called names?

The best bet is that there will be political hugs. Whether these are plastic hugs or real ones, it all sums up the reality that there are no friends in politics, but just strategic allies. While there are limited revelations about how the persuasion for those returning is being crafted, one colleague in the pen-pushing industry told this writer that the real test is not entirely in the big names coming back to the fold of the ruling party, but on whether they are willing to take the backseat as the political ground heavily tilted when they were darting with opposition politics.