By Kelvin Chiringa
Local opposition parties have so much to learn from South Africa’s build up to the elections if they are to increase their visibility, vibrancy and relevance in the political space ahead of elections this year, political analysts have advised.
This comes as the country’s many political outfits have been slammed for being too weak to challenge the ruling Swapo party’s uncontested majority support at parliament and grass roots level.
The single most decisive party that almost rattled the ruling party was the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), a Swapo mutation led by the late liberation icon, Hidipo Hamutenya, which came to the fore protesting the presidential candidature of President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Yet this again has been sidelined to the fringes and has suffered internal power disputes.
Commenting on the subject, analysts who spoke to The Patriot highlighted that the opposition should look nowhere but to SA’s two leading opposition outfits, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters when it comes to copying notes in order to change the status quo.
According to political commentator, Ndumba Kamwanyah, both parties’ contestation kept the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on the edge, creating a highly competitive campaign landscape.
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) analyst and director, Graham Hopwood said local parties could have done well had they focused on and created a groundswell of grassroots support.
EFF has made headlines for donating low cost housing to a select few, attracting both a sense of admiration and curiosity within mainstream media which questioned its source of funding.
The proactivity aspect of the red-berets can only be ignored at local opposition’s peril, analysts have observed as well.
“Both the DA and EFF are much more effective opposition parties than we have in Namibia and I think both of them have focused so much on grassroots mobilization and that is what is lacking here and it’s too late now to start that.
You have to do that, two to three years before the elections,” said Hopwood.
EFF and DA’s clear cut articulation of South Africa’s social ills and the clarity in the communication of their messages and positions as alternative governments have been regarded as something worth of emulation.
Kamwanyah submitted that opposition parties have not yet grasped the right approach on how they can unsettle Swapo out of its comfort zone.
“Strategically from the EFF, we’re talking about a very young political party. Within a short period of time they could amass such a very incredible campaign to rival the ANC and the official opposition.
There is a lesson in that process. When you talk about issues and pick a niche of the issues that you think are affecting the people and articulate them, you will be able to run an effective campaign.”
“We have seen that they have utilised social media a lot targeting the young people and so I will not be surprised if we see the EFF growing.
That growth could be explained in terms of the themes they injected in the youth population,” he said.
Effective organization is another take away, Hopwood said. “Our opposition parties are very reactive; they do not really put forward an alternative vision for the country. So there is a lot that can be learned.
Without saying which is the best party between the DA and the EFF, both parties organized more effectively,” said the IPPR director.
He said opposition parties could fare better is they redirect their campaign arsenal towards local and regional elections in a bid to get their councilors elected to clinch control or shared control of the towns.
“That helps in their grassroots mobilisation and also getting younger politicians with some experience of running a small village or town.
If there was a long term strategy for the position it should be on regional and grass roots mobilisation,” he added.
Why an ANC victory augurs well for Namibia
Kamwanyah has submitted that victory for the ANC spells stable economics which augurs well for Namibia on its economic recovery path.
However, University of Namibia (UNAM) economist, Roman Grynberg said Cyril Ramaphosa will need a solid victory if he is to turn around fortunes for SA.
Namibia’s economic decline has been credited to falling SACU receipts while SA, an erstwhile biggest trading partner, has now been overtaken by China as the domestic economy’s largest exports destination.
“Unless Ramaphosa turns the economy around dramatically he will only be a one-term president. SA is not Namibia. They will throw out ANC if they do not deliver.
All I hope for Namibia’s sake is that he does bring some stability. I don’t want to predict the future,” he said.