Talk is Cheap, Money Buys Votes

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Namibian opposition parties believe that lack of adequate financial resources is the biggest culprit for their poor performance during national elections. Speaking at a seminar where political analyst Professor Bill Lindeke made a presentation on a recent study done by himself and Professor AndrÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© du Pisani, the leaders of the opposition parties said the uneven distribution of funds to political parties allows the Swapo Party to win elections year in year out. United Democratic Front (UDF) MP Michael Goraseb said the government-instituted proportional finance scheme to political parties is restrictive and diminutive because it restricts essential political party operations only to certain areas or regions. “This poor funding does not provide adequate financing for establishments and proper functioning of temporary or permanent political party offices in all regions for opposition parties.” Goraseb said the ruling party also easily buys off members of opposition parties because they want job security. These sentiments where echoed by Republican Party President Henk Mudge who stated that financial resources is the difference between the ruling party and all the other parties. “In the last election, the RP spent less than N$1,3 million for the election, which was less than 5% of what Swapo spent for the election campaign.” Mudge added that Swapo continues to get the lion’s share of the funding because of its huge representation in Parliament but still uses State resources to campaign. Mudge said businesses also only support Swapo financially even if they are not Swapo supporters. “Even at the recent fund-raising dinner for the Swapo Party Headquarters, business personalities who are not Swapo members pledged thousands of dollars because they know what is good for them.” However, DTA of Namibia MP, McHenry Venaani, had a different view and stated that Swapo Party wins elections because of the huge support base it has in the four northern central regions. “Swapo wins the elections by obtaining good results in the four ‘O’ regions and Okavango.” “He also noted that there is a need for opposition political parties to look at their differences. “We need an internal dialogue between political parties to see how we can put aside our differences and become a strong alternative to the ruling party.” Goraseb acknowledged the shortcoming and said the opposition political parties are fragmented, which makes them very weak. “During the last elections, a numeber of political parties contested and only six made it to Parliament. These other political parties could be described as spoilers in the game of politics, posing no serious threat to the ruling party.” Lindeke agreed with the leaders of the opposition that funding for the parties makes a difference. “It is the rule everywhere, and the party in power will always use the resources of the country to campaign for his party.” He noted, however, that the situation in Namibia was not as bad as in Zimbabwe where political parties need at least 15 seats to get any funding from government. The seminar, which took place on Tuesday, was attended by various politicians as well as scholars and members of the civil society. The seminar was hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.