The danger of identity politics, comradeship and tribalism

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This essay shares my ideas on the intra-party tension, which spurs hotter sparks countrywide, as the 06th Swapo Party’s elective congress draws closer.

The congress will take place from 23rd to 27th November and will certainly have bearing on the future of the country. Two rival candidature camps, Team Hage and Team Swapo, vying for the top four positions are now battling for the hearts and minds of the congress delegates.

The mighty ruling Swapo party’s congress will elect new leaders who are expected to sail the ship and change the direction of the country from failure and corruption, nepotism and social stratification, bigotry and economic paralysis to socio-economic prosperity and political decency, transparency and accountability, as well as meaningful human development.

The selected candidates from either group vying for the party’s presidency, vice presidency, secretary general and deputy secretary general positions respectively, I believe are all Swapo members and grew up in the Swapo system.
They have good common intentions, the characters, qualifications, experience, vision and integrity required to govern Namibia people. In addition, I accept as true the selected candidates will bring impeccable resumes, a wealth of political acumen, experience and a record of accomplishments, in diverse government leadership positions, that are exceedingly admirable and clean without any tainted record of corruption, or the record of abuse of power.

Namibia is, without a doubt, a struggling state in terms of political, social and economic governance. So far, what the citizens of this country have seen and heard from many of the surrogates of the ruling party and other political entities, as well as some key ruling party candidates is nothing but the danger of identity politics, tribal and camaraderie/solidarity and divide between who is really the unifier or not.

These types of ideas and utterances daily permeating the media are destroying the party; fomenting tribalism within the party and are dangerous for Namibia now and in the future. These tribally-bent utterances and fashion of thinking are actually dangerous because they are being espoused by people who convey some form of social and oratory influences in a country and among a 2.3 million population that has a combined 60 percent adult and youth illiteracy rate and dismal (miserable) comprehension level.

Moreover, these verbal confrontations amongst the party comrades, especially when staged on public platforms, have serious negative repercussions on the party reputation, image, unity and stability. The practice of key party candidates and comrades fighting and de-campaigning one another is dangerous because the proponents have nothing to offer the Namibia people.

In short, this tendency is at best, sickening because it perpetuates the social and political essence of the campaigners, their followers and fans whilst it sustains lack of respect of other leaders’ opinions. One critical question that needs responsiveness is: Is this what Namibia and the citizens of the Republic of Namibia want now, after all those years of on-going infighting within the mighty Swapo Party? Absolutely not!

Namibians need change in the way they are governed. They also want progress in the country’s economic development and radical improvement in their living standards. Hence, Namibians are demanding a change that will be based on a clear and distinct national vision, not the status quo.

Namibians are demanding leaders who are ethical, transparent, and accountable and have integrity and morality themselves.

On the issue of political integrity, I think the candidate selected to win the office should be the candidate who is well grounded in political philosophy and with the most popular support and a distinguished personality within the party.

Contestants who will emerge victorious should take it upon themselves to unify and establish the most admirable and stable democracies in the country. Hence, the best the congress delegates can do is to demand to know candidates’ vision and plans for Namibia rather than categorising him/her within the limitations of their individual personal thinking.

In view of the changes, Namibians want candidates who will emerge victorious to bring an unmatched and unique experience, admirable character and true passion and plans to our collective guest to change Namibia from a nation of poverty, to one in which we can have investment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), a strong education system and workforce training, and education of the young generation in terms of youth leadership, the roles they supposed to play, conflict management, as well as advanced manufacturing, agricultural food production, and infrastructure development whilst adhering to rule of law of the party and simultaneously advancing transparency, accountability and effectiveness at all levels of governance.

More importantly, the new leadership should allow the youths participation in their country’s decision making process so they can bring about change and be part of that change they are looking for.

What the youth want, the expected new leaders should first reflect on the leadership change which the youths want and then repair the leadership credibility that is unfortunately still under threat in various regions and constituencies due to poor local leadership that derives its legitimacy from influential persons.
The new leaders are further expected to transform Namibia by using good public policies best shaped by dispassionate analysis of what in practice has worked or not.

* Gervasius Stephanus is a member of Swapo Party since 1980. He holds a PhD in Mathematics Education from Rhodes University, South Africa.

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