Analysts have raised several issues over the campaigns of the candidates contesting for top positions at the party’s congress next week, some indicating that the campaigns of the candidates lack substance.
With a mere seven days to go before the ruling Swapo Party holds its internal elections, the two camps, both Team Swapo Party and Team Hage each believes to have the voting masses on their side.
But looking at the campaign strategies deployed by the two camps thus far, much leaves to be desired.
A campaign strategy is defined simply as a proposed pathway to victory, driven by the understanding of who will vote for the candidate and why they will do so.
Looking at the campaign tactics that the two Swapo factions have resorted to, has left those in the public domain to question whether or not the campaign message was reaching the right audience.
Analysts and Public Relations experts agree that the campaign message is not clear as both camps have each focused more on denouncing each other rather than providing alternatives.
In the run-up to the Swapo 6th Swapo elective congress, the biggest event on the national calendar, the two camps have so far deployed the following known campaign strategies: social media campaigns (mainly WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter); mass rallies; rumour mongering; character assassination; tribal card; public endorsements; captured media houses and bribery.
Responding to questions sent to him this week, political scientist Dr. Charles Mubita branded the campaign methods as “accidental”.
“It would appear as if these were accidental campaigns, with strategies being developed and used as the campaigns grow in momentum. From face value, it looks like both sides did not put much effort in devising time-tested strategies necessary to deliver a resounding victory. What substantive issues have been brought on the table so far? I do not see much really,” Mubita pondered.
He added: “The campaign messages leave much to be desired. One of the cardinal rules of election campaign strategies is to be able to tell the voters how you will be able to implement the policies of the Party, your strength and capacity to do so.”
According to Mubita, the two Swapo factions ought to demonstrate their strengths and capabilities to deliver on their respective promises while also pointing out the opponent’s shortcoming.
“You also need to let the voters know the weaknesses and strength of your competitor to implement the same policies or to run the party. You need to be honest in order to enable the voter to make an informed decision. After-all this is an intra-party election. The winners will be expected to implement the policies of the Party and not necessarily to come up with new policies. What we see is mudslinging and tarnishing of each other’s’ names,” Mubita charged.
Pressed on what the two camps should be doing at this stage, Mubita replied: “Underground, direct contact campaigns with the delegates seems to be lacking. There is need for each side to engage the delegates individually – not as a group. Groups are never steady and reliable in an election. Once you have the support of the individuals, then the individuals will naturally spearhead the campaign.”
Mubita said both sides, Team Hage and Team Swapo Party have failed to segregate the voters into groups that support them and those that support their competitors and those that seem to be undecided or neutral.
Asked whether the current campaign by both camps were meeting their intended objectives, the social scientist retorted: “Right now it is impossible to evaluate whether the campaigns are working in terms of capturing the voting delegates. They are, however, successful in creating high tempo hype. The campaigns seem to concentrate more on showing off numbers at rallies.”
According to the expert, the major impediment of the campaigns so far is the failure, whether by default or design, by the regional executive committees (REC) to facilitate the campaigns of all the sides.
Rule 14 of the SWAPO Party Rules and Procedures demands that the REC affords time to all duly nominated candidates to campaign freely in the regions, which has not been the case.
Sharing similar sentiments with Mubita was Kaitira Kandjii, a communication and PR expert who argued that the campaigns by either side were devoid of any messages of hope.
“I have failed to get the messages and promises to see what really separates them.Team Hage is saying they want to revive the party. Team Swapo wants to revive the party. How are they going to revive the party? What is currently happening in the party that needs to be revived or restored? I am not getting that from the campaigns. None of the campaigners are going to the heart of the party and the state of the party and how they are going solve it,” Kandjii bemoaned.
He added that the campaigns were “devoid of any message that is going to give us hope. We need to get hope of what is happening”.
“If Team Swapo wins, it means Hage will only serve one term. So they[Team Swapo] are in actual fact potential presidential candidates and president of the country. They must be very firm in terms of what they are going to offer us. But saying Hage has failed…so what? If he has failed, what are you going to offer?” Kandjii queried.
On Team Hage’s campaign, Kandjii had this to say: “If he[Geingob] wins, that means he has secured (his second term). What will he do in the second term? There must be that consistent message that must come out that I am not getting. But now, it’s too late to really propound that message.”
Despite acknowledging the great media coverage that the two teams have enjoyed for the better part of the last two months, Kandjii maintained that the campaigners have resorted to tackling personalities instead of issues.
“The campaign is more personalised and targeting people instead running the issues. What is each candidate bringing to the people or to the country? Because eventually if you are president of the party, you definitely going to be president of the country. We are impacted by what is happening. But the issues are not coming through,” he charged.