Political analyst and academic Dr.Hoze Riruako believes opposition parties in the country are fast asleep at a time that the ruling Swapo party is strengthening its hegemony and growing its popularity.
This is evident in the representation of political parties in the National Assembly where 80% of the seats are occupied by Swapo lawmakers. Swapo has 77 seats, followed by Popular Democratic Movement(5) and Rally for Democracy and Progress(3). All People’s Party, United Democratic Movement, Workers Revolutionary Party and NUDO all have two seats. Swanu, United People’s Movement and Republican Party all have single representation.
His sentiments come in the wake of Swapo completing their successful elective congress held last year that saw the election of Sophia Shaningwa to Secretary General (SG), Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah to Vice President, Marco Hausiku to Vice SG and President Hage Geingob taking over the reins of the party on a full time basis.
Dr. Riruako who had an in-depth interview with The Patriot believes that the opposition parties in the country have failed and will continue to fail to give Swapo a good run for its money in the next election because they are more reactionary to issues instead of being pro-active.
“There are about three issues that will continue to haunt the Namibian opposition across the board in terms of creating a challenge for Swapo, now and going forward. There is the obvious issue that the opposition does not have the money as compared to Swapo. But we must remember that Swapo earned the right to have money through the polls by virtue of their parliamentary representation. Currently most of them(opposition parties) do not have money. All the opposition parties year in year out always claim they do not have the money to challenge Swapo. Others even claim that Swapo is in Government and are always in campaign mode as ministers go out and campaign with state resources,” he said.
Why leave the big tent?
According to Dr Riruako there is a notion among many businessmen and Namibians in general that there is no need to vote against Swapo because allegiance to the big tent comes with a lot of benefits.
“Look who amongst the business community is in Swapo’s fort, many businessmen believe allegiance to the ruling party comes with hefty benefits. Thus, they reason that there is no reason why they should not stay in Swapo and continue enjoying the fruits. This is a major setback for opposition politics, even as we head towards the next election soon. The issue here is that most political parties including Swapo have been started with a sort of tribal background but transformed into a national party. Many opposition parties have not managed to do this and to make matters worse, some parties are still associated with a colonial relation which also creates doubt in the mind of the voter,” he said.
He also added that opposition parties has not offered any alterative policies that are sellable in contrast to the ruling party. This, he believes has created a vacuum of ideas and also contributes to Swapo improving its hegemony in the country.
“Most of the opposition in the country are not really strong and have continued to complain about the unavailability of funds instead of offering an alternative. Most of them expect to get funding from advocacy groups internationally but the issue is that there is standing legislation that says no political party should receive funding from an external sources,” he said.
Hage is universally popular
Riruako said it is even more challenging for any opposition party to think of wrestling power from Swapo because the current President has universal appeal.
“You see President Hage Geingob is a populist President. He appeals to the business community, he appeals to his party and even appeals to some members of the opposition so at the moment there is no real reason that could strengthen the opposition against him. I would not really say the opposition is nowhere to be seen but they just do not have enough to present a stern challenge to Swapo in the next election as we move past the congress. So there is need to really look at themselves and come up with the best possible ways of going forward,” said Dr Riruako.