Many of us are greatly dismayed at the unfolding of the tense and disruptive political atmosphere in the ruling party (SWAPO), in recent weeks. I’ve to admit, that as an observer I’m deeply worried by negative political precedence being set.
There is a general belief that politics is a dirty game and the players are also dirty. This opinion is logically flawed and at best blind to its own logical conclusion(s). For example, if it is true that politics is a dirty game laced with dirty players, then the voters are dirty too, making us all a dirty society. Accepting such misdiagnosis grants license to people prone to abusiveness and cements fundamentalist ideologies.
What we are witnessing in the run up for the top positions in the ruling party, is a new trend of political fundamentalism. A fundamentalism graced with a general attitude empty of dialogue but aimed at attacking characters rather than issues. It is revealing the deep-seated self-centredness of some of the candidates, not to mention the obvious tribal tones. In addition, given that there are two camps, each has employed its own assassins who are trained mud throwers – to propagate for them with unprecedented indiscretion.
If we really endorse the notion that politics is naturally a dirty game – we cannot avoid the logical conclusion of such a view. It gives room for tolerance of unethical, hateful, self-centred, accusatory, denigrating campaigning methods as the best instruments – witnessed in these past weeks. In such an environment, all sense of moderation is lost, power and positions by all means become the driving goal and being ethical is thrown out of the windows. It becomes personal politics and no longer about the people who ought to be represented; trumping over every party constitution and ignoring every rule of civil engagement.
The affairs of the ruling party are a matter of concern because they affect everyone, regardless of their political view or camp. The recent public outbursts, although demonstrative of democratic liberty, have manifested huge levels of indiscretion. We have seen the crumbling of the party’s internal dynamics, which didn’t only create two camps but the absence of ideology and embracing emotionalism rather than reason. Should this, perhaps, be the beginning of thinking about ethics committees within political parties?
In the absence of an internal watchdog that will hold its members accountable to a certain code of ethics, this kind of frightening self-destructive behaviour will become the culture of our politics. What is amazing about this run up, is the silence of senior SWAPO members, none of them is speaking up in public to call the candidates to order. This is worrisome. I specifically expected Tate Hifipunye Pohamba and Tate Samuel Nujoma to be those voices of caution, in public.
Personally, I still think SWAPO stands as the best ideologically defined political party, however, with such excellent self-definition comes the responsibility to safeguard the long-term impact of the party. However, the current two teams do not seem to have the survival of the party in mind, the battles lines are been drawn around personalities and not around ideologies and development strategies. Other than the old cards of playing on issues that are obvious, the presented manifestos haven’t presented anything new or a blueprint meant to affect the nation.
What seems obvious is that personal grievances are now been politicised, which are mostly aimed at blaming the current president, even though the issues have been before he became president. For example, poor economic decisions have been made in the past, which are now coming to roost in 2017, and everyone is feeling the pinch. Both teams have members who have been major decision makers of how we spend our financial resources. When the stage begins to crumble before us, as the public, we don’t see a Team Hage or Team SWAPO, we see the impact of the SWAPO led-government. Whichever team wins, doesn’t excuse them for being part of the economic mess and crunch we are experiencing now.
Leaving the in-house politics behind, let me return to the issue of ethics. Politics is intrinsically an ethical subject; those that engage it cannot escape its moral demands. We expect an honourable campaign among peers, not the blind hard-lined attitudes we have witnessed recently. As to who will be elected to lead, is none of my business but as citizens, we are concerned with the kinds of people that will lead us. We would be interested to see real political discourse rooted in respect, vision and strategy for development. This isn’t a game, behind campaigns are real human faces and needs that seek to be addressed and it’s time the two teams begin to think along those lines. (To be continued…)