Politics, Social Commentary

Omuthiya Elections

The results of the Omuthiya municipal election are in. A lot of people were watching this result since the entry of a breakaway faction from SWAPO (Rally for Democracy and Progress or RDP) into the political arena. It has long been a theory that only a split in SWAPO will ever see the creation of a strong opposition party. About a decade ago, that hope was the Congress of Democrats, or the COD. Recently, however, the COD has been hampered by bitter infighting with different factions taking each other to court. As a result, all eyes were on Omuthiya, a newly declared town in Northern Namibia as a true test of the RDP’s mettle. To understand the significance, we have to look back to recent elections for Regional Councilor in the Eenhana Constituency. It was the first election in which the RDP made a run. They lost badly, but coming as it did shortly after the party was registered, conventional wisdom was that this was not a true test of their strength. Omuthiya, it was felt, would give them a chance to get their on the ground structures up and running, and make a show of it.

When the 1453 votes were counted, SWAPO got 89%, the RPD go 8%, the COD 2%. Now, back when the RDP was formed, some considered the creation of this new party, loaded as it was with a few former SWAPO heavyweights, as one of the major watershed events of our country’s political history. Some even put it up there with Independence in 1990. For these hopeful prognosticators Saturday morning, when the results flew in SMS format around the country, must have been a disappointment. If anything, it looks like most of what the RDP could muster is to corral votes from the COD. Given the current problems of the COD, this is not surprising. Inroads into SWAPO’s broad support in Northern Namibia were not built.

Now, attention turns to the by-election for Regional Councilor in the Tobias Hanyenko Constituency, part of the sprawling of Katutura settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek. This again is SWAPO territory, but, there is a twist. The former SWAPO Councillor was excommunicated from the Party due to his activities on behalf of the RDP. This lead to the by-eleciton being called, and the former Councilor will stand as the RDP’s candidate against his former comrades. We’ll have the result by the end of October, and it will be interesting to see if the RDP has the legs some think (hoped) it might have in a mano á mano bought against SWAPO.