The recently held elections in Namibia were a first for Africa due to the EVMs, free and fair according to the regional body and predictable in SWAPO’s overwhelming victory.
SWAPO garnered 80% of the vote out of the 71.79% of voters who cast their ballot with the closest opposition, the DTA only managing to amass 4.8%.
This is the most popular SWAPO has been since Independence up 4.73% since 2009 and it’s closest rival the RDP down 7.8% in the polls. For SWAPO life couldn’t be better, their presidential candidate Hage Geingob scooped up 86.73% of the vote.
The revolutionary party must be the envy of its regional brothers ZANU PF, the ANC, even BDP who have been losing support of their electorate.
What SWAPO has managed to do is to become a brand. Like Coca Cola, Colgate, KFC, SWAPO has popularised itself and in a system that elects via proportional representation this has resulted in stupendous success.
During the election year SWAPO marketed itself with the youth through popular musicians Gazza and The Dogg, through merchandise, hoodies, t-shirts and bucket hats and through anything that could come in blue, red and green.
In the off season SWAPO relies on its staunch base to advertise for it. Ever wonder why you use certain products? Toothpaste, soap, washing powder, dish washing liquid? Probably because you grew up using them and never bothered looking for an alternative because well because we’ve always used Sunlight for the dishes.
In the same manner parents and grandparents never pass up the opportunity to remind their kin of what SWAPO has done for them. A majority of the young electorate has bought into the SWAPO brand because of what they’ve been told rather than what they’ve experienced.
Even the opposition comes across as a cheap knockoff of SWAPO that other cola your mother buys when she can’t afford the real thing. Their structures are similar, old and patriarchal, their ideologies mirror images and their ambitions identical.
Perhaps the opposition should focus on being an opposition first. Instead of trying to beat SWAPO at a game it owns, the opposition should focus on building its own support base, connecting with the people regularly and not just in an election year.
A huge chunk of the electorate that the opposition should focus on is the youth. According to Election Watch Namibia the largest demographic of voters was the Generation Y (1982-Present) who made up 45.5% of voters.
The youth in Namibia are unsettled and ready for something different. The recent events with the ‘Struggle Kids’ or Job Amupanda’s Affirmative Repositioning testify to this. However the youth will not blindly accept any change.
Opposition parties need to engage them, bring them into their structures and formulate policies from there rather than assume to know what we want like our geriatric leaders have done time and time again.
The foreseeable future has SWAPO as the incumbent and as long as the opposition chooses to employ copy paste politics, then the SWAPO brand will only grow bigger and stronger.
If the opposition parties in Namibia wish to effect change, they must realise the role of an opposition in a democracy and rebuild their image according to the interests of the Namibian people and not the ambitions of individual politicians.
Until then… Omake Afyoona nye.