Opposition parties in Namibia have in recent times come under heavy criticism from pundits and detractors who claim they are simply entities who become non-existent between elections and only come to life during an election year. This has been blamed as one of the reasons which culminates into the lacklustre performance of the opposition during polls over the years. The Patriot caught up with several opposition parties to find out what they are up to in order to increase their support base in an attempt to give the ruling Swapo party a run of its money come 2019.
All People’s Party acting secretary general Vinsent Kanyetu attributed the lack of noticeable activity to unfair airtime distribution on local radio stations and inadequate financial resources. “You know that opposition parties are totally blocked from speaking on the radios. On all NBC radio stations, you cannot go there and air things regarding party programmes, you must pay. Why? Kanyetu said so far this year, the party managed to open head offices in Ondangwa, Tsumeb and in Windhoek. Prior to the opening of the aforementioned offices, APP only had one office in Rundu. The APP is hard at work despite having meagre resources as it attempts to open more offices in Otjozondjupa (Grootfontein) and Hardap (Mariental) regions respectively, Kanyetu said. APP is set to set to convene a national conference on 30 June 2017. “Apart from the offices, we are also doing all the efforts to make sure that our readiness by the time we get to the national elections, we have to prepare ourselves internally in terms of our policies and the way of doing things. Because in recent years, the government has implemented quite a number of issues that oppositions have been talking about. One them is the increment of old pension grant and free education just to name a few,” Kanyetu noted. He also downplayed long-held views that APP was a tribal and regional party that only focuses on people from the two Kavango regions. “It is not a surprise. People have called us names. Some have said we are a regional party. Some have said we are a family party but those are all just fabricated lies. We have opened an office in Ondangwa, is Ondangwa Rundu? We have opened an office in Windhoek, is Windhoek Rundu? We opened another one in Tsumeb and we are planning on opening another one in Grootfontein,” dismissed Kanyetu.
NUDO Secretary General Meundju Jahanika said the party has been “very busy” with the mobilization and restructuring of members in the regions. “We are busy. If there are parties that only become active during election time, then I cannot speak on their behalf. But NUDO is always busy. Currently we are in the regions, in Omaheke mobilizing and restructuring branches,” Jahanika said. Jahanika pointed out that his party played an important in ensuring that Ovaherero Chief dubbed ‘Ombara Otjitambi’ Vekuii Rukoro’s meeting with President Hage Geingob became a reality. According to NUDO, the party wanted the Rukoro and Geingob camps to put their differences aside as Namibia seeks to get reparations from the German government over the 1904-1908 Nama and Ovaherero genocide.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) Secretary General Mike Kavekotora said the party’s three year strategic plan that guides its activities is on track. “In our strategic plan, the whole country has been divided into four units to ensure that all of us (leaders) are actively involved in the political activities and political program of the party. “One unit is led by the President (Jeremiah Nambinga), one by the Vice President, another by the Secretary General and the last one by the Deputy Secretary General,” noted Kavekotora. RDP’s Youth League, Women’s League as well as the National Executive Committee (NEC) members have all been divided in the four units to assist the party’s top four leaders. Despite the uphill battle that opposition parties face in order to make ends meet, RDP managed to buy three vehicles to make most parts of the country accessible to the party, Kavekotora said. “As far as the activities are concerned, the creation of branches is key…something that has already taken place,” said Kavekotora. On the downside, however, the RDP Parliamentarian was quick to point that some branches of the party were “inactive”. “Our branches in areas like Kavango East and Kavango West became active and we want to roll-over the creation of those branches because we have been dormant and because of the dormancy, some of the branches have become totally inactive.
Newly elected South West Africa National Union (SWANU) President Tangeni Iijambo said his party has been following the happenings in Namibia “very closely.” Iijambo, who described SWANU as the “government in waiting”, hailed the party’s recent Congress that saw him replace Usutuaije Maamberua as its president. “You might have read that I am the new President of SWANU and that Comrade Maamberua will retain his Parliamentary position until he finishes his term after which I will replace him, hopefully with four others.
United People`s Movement held its Central Committee (CC) meeting at its Head Quarters in Rehoboth earlier this month. Apart from the National Leadership, 55 delegates from 18 UPM Branches graced the CC meeting. At the said meeting, the UPM leadership called on party members to work together for a better future for the generations to come. In a statement availed to this paper, UPM leader Jan van Wyk urged party members to commit and serve the electorate to the best of their ability. The CC Meeting also filled two vacancies in the UPM`s top structure. Thelma Kunze was elected as Secretary General of the UPM and is deputized by Erica Windstaan. In the near future, the party also plans to scale down on expenditure to save resources for elections; establish measures to improve on proper functioning of the Secretariat; ensure proper structures and recruitment at all Branches, Constituencies and Regions; establish a welfare organisation in order to assist the party to fulfil its social responsibilities and to be more aggressive in the fight against GBV, alcohol and drug abuse.