Elections are around the corner; but where are the signs?

September 19th, 2014 | by

IN two months’ time the country shall be going to the polls. But as much as this should be times of excitement for the whole country, one detects little excitement and/or anticipation.

This is because those that the country has become accustomed to taking the lead in this regard have as yet to come out of their post-2009 elections hibernation or perhaps they are still fatigued from those elections.

It is the political parties that may greatly be guilty for the apparent apathy and indifference, and hence the seeming lack of excitement and expectation.

Or if you wish the state of near anaesthesia or paralysis in which the Namibian democratic system seems to have been  and is. This notwithstanding whether in the period after elections, before, during and post-elections.

Somehow, the participative democratic dispensation has been of little consequence in terms of practical and tangible delivery, and that participation has become intrinsic in itself and not a means towards  an end, this end being change, however incremental but significant it may be or should have been.

Given this state of affairs, and which seem to have been getting worse over the years, politics in Namibia, or the democratic dispensation, so to speak, seems to have been less inspiring year in and year out.

Except for the very few ardent observers of state affairs, not to mention those who find immediate tangible material benefits in one way or another, like tenders and what-have-you.

It is no exaggeration to say that even the august houses of parliament – the National Assembly and the National Council – have been at most, oblivious to the majority of the population of the Land of the Brave, if not non-existent. Having lapsed and relapsed into some kind of limbo, the semblance of sessions  every now and then notwithstanding. Partly this is as much to be blamed on the goings-on within these two august houses, the lack of vibrancy and dynamism from within, if not lack of quality therein. Lest my inference renders itself to impulsive interpretations, by no means I equate vibrancy and dynamism with sensationalism and dramas and theatrical antics akin to what has been happening in similar august houses globally, with such at times retrogressing into physical sparring bouts at worse, and at times into nothing more than comical and theatrical verbiages, and sometimes cosy chambers of doziness.  Bluntly put, business on national issues in our two august houses, even critical and crucial ones for that matter, have been seeming of late but sheer routine.

Unlike in the early days of freedom when the honourables were deserving of such accolade,  the same cannot be said 24 years after independence.

Simply the steam and aura, patriotic or otherwise, seem to quickly have been drained out of the members, as indeed energy, integrity, dedication, statesman and –womanship, as indeed many of our state machineries at every level seem to be devoid of any consciousness, conscientiousness and discipline.

This, somehow, has been calling, if not for a revolutionary transformation, for a radical departure in the least from the honeymoon-like state of affairs that seems to have gripped the State in all facets and layers in the last few years. But the question that begs an answer, given these state of affairs, especially now that the country is presented with the requisite and necessary but not the only opportunity or condition for a critical self-introspection, is whether elections this time around can deliver? Or in the least make a difference that our democratic system very much craves and has been craving for in terms of the infusion of not only new energies, wisdoms, dedications, judiciousness?

The only party that has so far come up with its list of candidates for the National Assembly, thus giving an indication of the likely composition,  and perhaps quality, of the next government should it form the next government, is the Swapo Party of Namibia. To say the least not only does such a list make for interesting reading but it is a mixed bag.  A mixed bag of both good and not-so-good if not worse.

Hence, on the face of it the list does not inspire anticipation and great expectation, be it in terms of the quality of the next government or of one of the chambers of parliament, the National Assembly.

To make any conjecture at this stage based on the composition of the Swapo Party list, which does not necessarily define content and quality,  honestly is to be engaging in an imaginative and fairytale affair.

We wait and hope for the better. As much on the face of it there is little one can also expect from the other parties, especially in terms of fielding better candidates for the National Assembly, let alone having a better chance of filtering more candidates into parliament.

However, everything is not lost. During elections the most important and vital ingredient and cog in the democratic machinery, the voter, more often than not seems to have been  ignored with emphasis usually and most of the time placed on political parties.

And everyone is partly to be blamed for this state of affairs. The political parties, the media, civic society and last but not the least, the voter. 

The media is to blame because it cannot be said to ever have been setting the agenda for any elections. Partly because of too much expectation, if not self-delusion by the media itself, that it can properly and ably equip itself to the task given its undeniable incompetence, inabilities and shortcomings.   This has been to the extent that one sometimes has been compelled to conclude that our democratic system may just as well have been having and getting the media it deserves. This is as much as one may also have been compelled to conclude that the voters have been getting honourables that she/he deserves and vice versa.

There should have been a synergy between all the players and facets that constitute the Namibian State so that one cannot blame one or the other. Because the seeming weakness of the one cannot but be a reflection and factored in the weakness of the other. Ultimately, it seems a matter of the blind leading the blind and not the one eyed leading the blind.

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