By Sankara Rawlings
The media have in the few days past been awash with reports of a stand-off between the country’s prime minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and a 27-year old female political aspirant to the Ondangwa town council, Angelina Immanuel.
This is an interesting case in that it is an epic illustration of a long coming battle between the old and the new, a convergent of new generation activism challenging erstwhile political dinosaurs.
The tiff goes beyond the PM, as she only came out of her cocoon to defend her domineering party’s hegemony, to a clash between an entrenched system and an individual outsider.
The outburst between Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Immanuel also fuels debate as to whether the Swapo party is welcoming of young blood with shared interest of the country’s future of governance and service delivery.
Conflicting views have also surface bordering on whether young people ought to be part of the make of the leadership structure simply because they are young or should the emphasis be on capacity, ability and experience.
But what is clear is: Immanuel’s vitriolic attack on the PM’s alleged incompetence and a perceived blatant failure to come to the rescue of young fellow females against the depredations of masculine energies, struck a nerve with Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who came out guns blazing defending her integrity.
Inasmuch as the PM suggests that Namibia’s democratic face allows for an interplay of divergent views, the fact that she superimposes the image of Immanuel as an “independent” suggests that she sees her as more of an outsider.
To hell with her credentials!
Critics have said the PM’s self-defense came out more as a fuss, an emotional reaction to exonerate the self in the face of rare hard hitting attacks on such high an official which she is.
But how and why such a young woman as Immanuel has become so important a force for such a political behemoth as Swapo to open its arsenal against herm is a question that lingers for dialogue.
What is it that she represents that has created so much unease within the high corridors of this revolutionary powerhouse, so much to the point of old men and women crying out so loud?
Foremost, Immanuel represent the future of this generation, and being a woman, her position has come out so clearly as symbolic of a generation takin matters into its own hands to forge a path of its own.
She is an embodiment of the near-injunction that the future is female.
With Namibia’s young being apathetic at present, Immanuel’s potential success in Ondangwa could signal that youths can take over this country block by block only if they think outside the box.
It could further breathe more oxygen to a resolute Young-Turk movement, a phenomenon that has seen its way into mainstream political discourse such as the Affirmative Repositioning.
Yet it is this thinking and acting outside the box that the old guards is so much against, for it takes the winds off the sails of its political machine, it martials a generation in a dangerous direction, and as the old generation dies out, it can ultimately cut the young off the umbilical cord that connects them to the revolutionary party.
The future of Swapo and its generic system can only be alive if the young continue to operate within its ambit, espousing its anti-colonial and pro-Black empowerment revolutionary rhetoric.
Immanuel, being independent is a non-conformist, one who claims to have a vision that can only be sustained via meritocracy rather than political sycophancy and partisan loyalty lines.
In the sight of staunch hardliners, she is a political delinquent.
But whether she will ultimately be voted in or out does not matter, her attempt at power symbolizes the growing frustration of a disenfranchised, unemployed and agitated young population.
One should not forget that the same generation continues to tolerate the mistakes of the day with extreme equanimity, self-leashed against the possibility of exploding into civic disobedience.
For how long?
Hers is a response to the Fanonian bugles that call for every generation to rise up to the challenge of shouldering the noble gallant obligation to, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.
The “but” factor
Yet such energy can only be tolerated if it is horned within the circumference that encloses Swapo ideology and affiliation, and forwards the objective of political longevity, continued relevancy and immortality.
As a liberating force, Swapo sees itself as the custodian of a libertarian black Namibia within which white and alternative political party dominance ought to be checked to guarantee the legacy of struggle.
The party’s continued hegemonic supremacy over domestic politics ensures a democracy in which there is a party-pluralism and authoritarian democracy, one which at all costs ought not to reform itself out of power.
Such convictions are so strong and sentimental to its minions; so much that internal conflict should never come close to challenging these.
In that context, it comes by no surprise that internal divisions and power jostling have been sold to the public media as intra-party democracy at play.
Swapo is less afraid of internal power struggles as it is of genuine threatening forces from outside its fold, and fort now the party is assured that no such threats exist even as it trudges towards an election.
At the same time, given that a majority of its support stems from the elderly further puts it more at ease, while an apathetical young generation saves to, with calculated subtlety, emasculate any effort for a neo-generational consensus to oust the party via the ballot.
South Africa’s elections are an epitome of everything that can be wrong when hollow political activism consigns itself within the playground of social media, outside the blast-furnace realm of real politicking.
The young ought to come out of their comfort zones and vote, if they are serious about this country, and if they want to be taken seriously.
Immanuel’s camp has that mobilization task.
It is not really about age, more so as in biology, it is about one’s ability to be real to convince, to be real to rattle the status quo and forge a new generation kind of politics that hinges on pragmatic mundane issues affecting the everyday man and woman.
The party also has the obligation to reform itself into a modern persuasive force that attracts brains and such energy it in order to replenish its arsenal against outside forces.