The level of tolerance and maturity displayed during the campaign of tomorrow’s regional council and local authority elections cannot go unnoticed.
Perhaps the only incident that leaves a black dot on this otherwise clean campaign period was the confrontation last week in Khorixas where Swapo and UDF supporters exchanged expletives. In fact they fell short of exchanging blows – saved only by the urgent arrival of police to the scene.
Of course there were also reports of party activists fighting over trees on which to hoist flags, but there was really nothing significant to write home about.
Even the exchanges of political rhetoric between rival politicians were conducted within the boundaries of overall general respect – a rarity in Namibia.
There was no name-calling such as Judas Iscariots, cockroaches or appeals to deny certain sections of the Namibian society water.
Also, no areas were declared no-go areas as observed in the past when certain parts of our independent country were cordoned off to serve as a turf for a selected few.
Such incidences have in the past been used by especially international election observers to cast aspersions over the credibility of our elections.
These reflected badly on governance in general and the credibility of our electoral processes in particular. Namibians often think that vote rigging, an accusation often peddled by bad losers in our country, is the only issue that can throw the credibility of elections into turmoil.
But the fact of the matter is that elections are a process. Evaluation of that process includes all events that might have occurred, and not only what happens during tallying of the votes.
It therefore, means intimidation and other related distractions are also considered when assessing how an election was carried out in a country. If a particular area is considered a no-go zone, it means robbing others of a chance to freely campaign and therefore canvass votes.
When insults are hurled, it also distracts the credibility of certain candidates who may then lose voters. So it is a chain of events that would be bundled together to assess the overall election process.
This time around, political parties gave little away especially to armchair international critics who have made it their sole business to look for fault in our elections so that they can have a field day bashing our country and its leaders.
Indeed, the process has been so clean that whoever loses tomorrow’s election has no leg to stand on insofar as accusing rivals is concerned.
Last year’s national elections – where Dr Hage Geingob emerged as a record winner – were largely clean too. The opposition, showing rare maturity, accepted the outcome and congratulated the ruling party, Swapo and its candidate.
The challenge is now for us to maintain this trend – and even to better it. Namibians must continue to win at all fronts because – like British High Commissioner Jo Lomas said somewhere in this edition – we are a country that is doing things differently compared to our peers on the continent.
May the best parties and candidates win!