Friday 23 April 2021
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NUDO’s elective congress – The Final Shutdown

NUDO presidential hopefuls deputy secretary general Vetaruhe Kandorozu and Utjiua Muinjangue are heading for a showdown as both camps refuse to throw in the towel.
Big crowds and good rhetoric does not guarantee victory at the congress. The two presidential hopefuls traversed the country visiting the NUDO strongholds, counting the number of delegates supporting them, poaching delegates from the other camp and trying to lure undecided delegates.
The party is thus poised to take one of the most important decisions in its history, at a time that opposition parties are gasping for political oxygen to remain relevant.
Without the common enemy of old, an oppressive regime, opposition political parties has steadily lost its shared purpose.
Under the leadership of Asser Mbai, the movement has been corroded by irrelevance and a     noticeable absence on national issues.
The elective congress that starts tomorrow presents an opportunity for new leadership— between those members motivated by the pursuit of social justice and those for whom revitalising the party has become their raison d’être.
But the congress also offers members a chance to begin repairing damage done during the campaign. There is much of that.
After its contribution to the fight for reparations for genocide committed against Namibians by the Germans, a matter currently under negotiation by the two states, NUDO still finds itself on the periphery in Namibian politics.
The party’s youth league is virtually invisible and apart from political party funding from parliament, it has no other revenue streams and the party’s ideological spectrum remains unclear compared to the era of  a vibrant Kuaima Riruako’s presidency.
As a result of political weakness and ideological shortcomings, the party has become synonymous to a participant in a competition instead of being a competitor.
Whoever replaces Mbai will face the mammoth task of both reviving the party and reversing the vertiginous decline in the political sphere of the country. He or she will almost certainly lead the party into elections next year, a platform which could see the party lose the two seats it currently occupies in the National Assembly.
Kandorozu is an ideological party cadre who tells crowds what they want to hear. For good reason, those in NUDO who want to set the movement and NUDO on a corrective path feel Kandorozu’s rhetoric resonates well with the ideals of the late party leader, Riruako. He also promised during his campaign to establish a business arm for the party to generate extra income.
Antogonists however feels Kandorozu should not lead the party because he has been part of the leadership that has led to the party into the entity it is today.
There are however fears that Muinjangue does not have the political acumen and stamina to wage a formidable challenge at the national polls next year. She has also never served in the top structures of the party, hence the reservations about her.
Protagonists however feel Muinjangue will inject new hope in the party and move away from the conventional politics that NUDO has been playing.
With the country currently faced with an avalanche of social issues, Muinjangue’s background as a social worker and her campaign promises on how to handle social issues has won over some critics.
Although Muinjangue who is a social activist turned politician, offers the party a better chance of revival, she is far from a guaranteed win.
This is partly because of the changing demographics of the party’s membership, which is seen to be along tribal lines. One of the biggest challenges that awaits the winner at congress is to devise a plan to avert perceptions that NUDO is a Herero party.
This, and the entrenched web of patronage around Kandorozu, are likely to work in Kandorozu’s favour. Not that he would provide a miracle cure. The rot may be too deep.
Some party members have courageously and in great detail brought to public attention the nexus of corruption linked to Kandorozu who stands accused of using party funds to run his cash-loan business.
But if NUDO is to maintain its relevance to Namibians and its once-enviable electoral spell during the Riruako era, the job needs to start afresh now. If not, NUDO members with an interest in envisioning a brighter future for the party could consider dumping the party.
Namibia’s opposition parties have a poor record when it comes to providing a viable alternative to the ruling Swapo Party which has faced little competition at the polls since independence. NUDO has the opportunity to prove an exception to this perception after years of lackluster performance.

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