27 November 2012

Namibia: Political Maturity Impresses Analysts

Windhoek — Analysts have praised the level of maturity displayed by contestants for positions at the 5th Swapo Party elective congress slated for November 29 to December 02.

The say the outcome of the crucial 5th congress would be beneficial for the overall state of democracy in Namibia.

Candidates nominated for the vice-presidency - the gateway to State House - are Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana the secretary general of Swapo, Dr Hage Geingob the incumbent vice-president and Jerry Ekandjo, who is the Swapo Party's secretary for information and publicity.

Analysts are of the opinion that the campaigning was 'fair and free' of bad blood between the candidates who are contesting the various positions in the party.

"The campaigns were fair. There were no problems experienced. There was also no use of derogatory language and character assassination," said the vice-rector for academic affairs and research at the Polytechnic of Namibia, Dr Andrew Niikondo.

He further said the fact that the ruling Swapo Party members are campaigning for positions within the party is a sign of maturity and strengthened democracy within the ruling party. He said opposition parties should learn from the Swapo Party and hold regular congresses and transparent elections.

"It should not be something that is being done behind closed doors. People should be nominated, campaign and be elected," Niikondo said. He however feels the race for the vice-presidency is close, and it is very difficult to predict who would emerge victorious.

Senior lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam) Phanuel Kaapama was of the opinion that the campaigns by the three candidates for the party vice-presidency were largely "interesting'.

He said it was interesting in the sense that the candidates did not only take their agendas to the delegates who are going to vote at the congress, but also into the public domain. "I think that was to boost morale and to canvass for votes from the delegates indirectly," commented Kaapama.

He further said the Swapo Party as the ruling party carries greater expectations when it comes to the consolidation of democracy in Namibia, and elections of this nature are an indication of that commitment.

"One would challenge parties that don't hold congresses to follow the same example," he agreed with Niikondo.

He said some in the ranks of the opposition will be following the developments at the congress with keen interest, and some have already started commenting, maybe hoping there will be "a fallout".

"If the process goes smoothly, then Swapo would emerge stronger, but if there are fallouts, then it would be to the benefit of the opposition," he said.

Kaapama like Niikondo, feels the race to the coveted vice-presidency 'is very close'. "Let the best man or woman emerge victorious."

The Director of the Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR), Graham Hopwood, said the campaigning has raised the need to make a clear distinction between party activities and state responsibilities.

"We do need new rules on the abuse of state funds for party purposes," he said. Hopwood further said only if the ballot is secret and properly conducted the process could be said to be fair. He said that it is important that other political parties practise internal democracy by holding congresses.

"The contest between three candidate should be welcome. The opposition parties should also organise competitive processes for selecting party leaders," he remarked.

He added that it is important that the congress ballot is carried out fairly and the losing candidates and their supporters accept the outcome.

"However, if the process of selecting candidates is questionable and the losing candidates cry foul, it could be damaging for the party and democracy in general," Hopwood concluded.

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