On the Spot – Nudo Talks Tough On Being Good Opposition [interview]

New Era Chief Reporter for Politics, Mathias Haufiku, talks to Nudo’s Deputy Secretary General, Vetaruhe Kandorozu, on the aspirations and challenges facing opposition political parties.

Has opposition political parties been fading and waning in your view?

Yes and a no. As a matter of fact opposition parties have been here since independence, are still there and will always be here till a change of government and we take over the administration of the country. Change is our perseverance as there are lots of things happening in Namibia under the current administration and we will keep exposing them until the Namibian nation starts to realise and believe in what we aocate. The opposition parties won’t fade away, they will be there because it is part of human nature since we all do not see things the same way. The waning of the opposition will be caused by a lack of funding, skew media coverage and victimisation of people by the ruling party. The issue of public job opportunities for comrades of the ruling party will diminish the opposition parties because people will migrate from the opposition to the ruling party in search of promises. Thus, if the current government administrators will not misuse the state resources at the expense of the opposition parties, the opposition parties will not fade away. If we nationalise the procurement process and business people start to sponsor opposition parties the lifespan of opposition parties will remain endless.

What are the implications for Namibian democracy if this is the case?

Namibian democracy will be at stake. We must anticipate an autocratic governing system or a militaristic governing system if we let go of the opposition. Mind you, the ruling party does respond to opposition stimulus. Therefore, if there are no opposition parties development will be skewed for those in the majority who find themselves in the executive while other parts of the country will stand aside complaining but nothing will be done because there is no alternative party or government executive in waiting. If opposition parties fade away then we will have a situation where only the family of those in leadership will benefit from the national cake. Therefore, it is of paramount importance for citizens to join the opposition to help design policy guidelines in order to balance power.

Since independence Namibia only had three opposition parties. What is your take on this situation?

There is more voter migration among the opposition, which is a good democratic sign, while those in the ruling party are static and fear for change and they are in waiting for liberation struggle promises that did not come their way since 1990. Those in the ruling party position themselves to take decisions with no fear and with a lots of favouritism and nepotism. This can result in the minority groups being excluded from the national development plan and they feel mistreated by the current administrators. The government needs to change its attitude, while the opposition parties need to minimise the overstay of the ruling party and the dominance of government administration. An overstay in office creates extraordinary confidence and those in the lead start forgetting the wishes and aspirations of the masses.

International donors are seen as a source of income for most African opposition parties. Is this a good or bad thing?

This is totally very good and it is something that must be welcomed by the opposition parties because the money we get from government is not sufficient. We need some external assistance to level the balance. International donor money can be used in the areas of capacity building, policy and guidelines formulation. They must also help to finance the branding of the smaller polical parties to enable them to have enough memorabilia for distribution. However, donor money must not be used for any activities that will promote violence before, during and after the campaign sessions or military set-ups to remove the government. Donor funds must merely provide a conducive environment for opposition parties to have the capacity to compete with ruling parties in anticipation of taking over the administration of the state in a democratic system through a gazetted election process.

What can be done to strengthen the base of opposition parties?

The playing field must be levelled, the government must allocate an equal amount of money to political parties during the campaign period, a minimum of N$5 million per political party, especially those in parliament to minimise the mushrooming of suitcase political parties that may be formed solely for money. We must understand that when the election period is officially announced by the President, the playing field must be level for all political parties since they are competing in the same competition. Media time slots must be equally distributed to all political parties as there is no seniority in party ranging. The NBC, New Era must allocate equal coverage for all political parties. The President must only be given extra preference when addressing a state event but not when he is addressing a political party event or rally. Furthermore, we call upon the business community to finance or sponsor opposition parties because it is the only way democracy can prevail.

The police must be attached to each political party at any rally to be hosted anywhere in Namibia, so that there will not be interference from the opposing parties claiming the area belongs to them. The police must accompany each political party when they are travelling to all communicated meetings or rallies. Traditional leaders must play their role of motherhood, fatherhood, sisterhood and brotherhood, ubuntu and ethics of accommodating any of their children who belong to any political party. By creating a platform for opposition parties to move freely anywhere in the country, you are strengthening the opposition and this will enable them to increase their representation in parliament and have a voice for the voiceless.

Analysts speak about opposition parties having the same ideologies with no alternative solutions to those offered by the ruling party. What is your comment on such statements?

What is your take on this? All so-called political analysts are members of the ruling party, so what would you expect them to say. They will always analyse in favour of the ruling party. The media is biased because it hardly contacts objective analysts who don’t belong to the ruling party. All media are sided with the ruling party because they fear losing out on aertisements, tenders and other opportunities which may arise from the procurement process. They fear jail if they write an article that puts the government on the spot.

What can opposition parties do to break the 24-year Swapo dominance of the country’s political scene.

When Nudo takes over government we will not build houses for those in urban areas, we will build houses in rural areas such as settlement areas and growth points. This will help us to stop urbanization, while the current government is promoting urbanisation by building houses in the urban areas. Our focus will be to build houses for teachers, nurses, hostel matrons and all blue-collar workers rather than giving to the white-collar workers and only urban areas. Resources will be distributed equally in all 14 regions. Like in the case of the mass housing project the government selected towns in which they have the majority of votes as a token of complementing the election results rather than looking to the needy people.

All major settlement areas will be connected with tarred roads, unlike the current system of only upgrading roads with tar in the northern areas of the country where the majority of the ruling party come from and forgetting other regions where they also get some votes. Our approach will be a blanket system for all Namibians. Our pensioners and orphans or the beneficiary of a social grant will get N$1000 per month. We will fight for security guards to get N$3 500 per month and a bonus per guard as per value of items they are protecting.

We will make use of the white elephant railways from Tsumeb to Ondangwa-Oshikango. We will buy locomotives to assist Namibians who are always stranded during the festive season because there is no transport to take them back to work to resume duty on time. Our fellow Namibians will be taken care of and won’t be forgotten like the current system is doing to them on an annual basis with no plan for them. All the regions will have vocational training centres because we believe that artisans are the key for infrastructural development thus all regions must own it.

The decentralisation enabling policy will be implemented fully unlike the current executive fearing to instruct permanent secretaries to roll out their services to the regions. We will amend the treasury bills to enable the regional councils to be included in the national budget vote. This will enable the constituencies to have developmental budgets that will cater for the wishes and aspirations of people at the grassroots level. Nudo will aocate nationalisation of mines as part of black empowerment policy. Resettlement farms will be given to the people who lost land who are grazing in the corridors. A Nudo government will empower people to come to the level of being commercial farmers rather than demoting them to communal land.

Source : New Era