By Staff Reporter
Political analyst Graham Hopwood said he expects the independent candidate for Ondangwa Urban constituency by-election, Angelina Immanuel to do better in elections than political parties such as Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Rally for Democracy Progress (RDP) and Congress of Democrats (CoD).
Hopwood said this, this week when he was asked to comment on the matter which has become a hot topic of discussion in the country especially among young people as they believe that there is no generational transition as the generation of 1930-1950 still clings onto power.
Hopwood stated that although it is always difficult to defeat an incumbent from the ruling party, the by-election is an interesting test case for the possible success of independent candidates in 2020.
“The candidature of a youthful independent candidate represents a new form of challenge for the ruling party – and one that may be repeated next year across a number of constituencies at the regional elections,” he said.
Asked whether the ruling party was panicked by Immanuel who has no strong political profile, Hopwood said democracy is about contestation and it is the nature of such contests that candidates and parties will try to persuade the electorate to vote for them but also to say why they shouldn’t vote for an alternative candidate or party.
He added that it’s also not surprising that Swapo is sending its big guns such as Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and the Vice President of SWAPO Netumbo Ndaitwah to Ondangwa.
“Swapo has always mobilised effectively and energetically when it perceives an electoral threat – for example in response to the emergence of the CoD and RDP.
“However, it is always difficult to defeat an incumbent from the ruling party and Swapo remains the overwhelming favourites to retain Ondangwa Urban.
“I would expect Ms. Immanuel to do better than the RDP, CoD and PDM. If she is unable to beat these opposition parties then it would throw into doubt any strategy of putting forward independent candidates at next year’s regional elections,” he added.
Political commentator Henning Melber opined that the reason Swapo held a rally at Omashaka village in Ondangwa urban is that it (Swapo) considers any deviating view – in particular at its home base in the O-regions – as a challenge which it tends to side-line immediately. He added that so far, the party claims some kind of monopoly over the politics there.
“Anyone putting that in question will be tackled. That the ‘big guns’ are used does not necessarily mean that the party panics. It is more an indication that any sign of deviation in the political sphere is getting a visibly authoritative response through the presence of a highest-ranking office bearer. This aims to stress also symbolically that there is no room for other views,” Melber explained.
Asked whether Immanuel was a threat to Swapo, Melber said “I do not think that the candidacy as such is a threat. But it has some symbolic meaning.”
He said that if she should garner some votes it could set an example and encourage others to do likewise in the future.
He further elucidated that he does not believes that Immanuel has what it takes to defeat the candidate fielded by Swapo as older people in the region continue to vote guided by patterns of loyalty to the party which in their view is their home, like family is, and liberated them.
“But it will be interesting to see how big the support for her is especially among the born-frees, who do not have such historically rooted affinities and loyalties.”
Five candidates have registered with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for the Ondangwa Urban Constituency by-election scheduled for 15 June.
ECN Returning Officer Rauna Nkandi told Nampa recently these include independent candidate Angeline Immanuel; Leonard Negonga (Swapo); Asser Vincent (All People’s Party); Mandume Andreas (Congress of Democrats) and Johannes Martin (Popular Democratic Movement).
The by-election was necessitated by the appointment of the former Oshana regional councillor for the constituency, Elia Irimari, as the governor of Oshana in March this year.
Irimari replaced Clemens Kashuupulwa, who was appointed as Namibia’s ambassador to Russia last year.