AFTER attending public rallies of the Rally for Democracy and Progress in Windhoek and at Omuthiya following the party’s establishment a few years back, I told some of my newsroom colleagues that nothing about the RDP is different from Swapo.And when some inquisitive minds picked my brain about the party’s chances in the first presidential and general elections they contested, I predicted that they would get between seven and nine seats in the National Assembly.
Recent events are proof that I was not far off the mark.
A lot of ink has already been spilled analysing the impact the recent divisions in the main opposition party will have on their future role in the country’s political arena.
Yet it is worth putting things into perspective because, as those who have long been around in Namibian politics will agree, the Rally for Democracy and Progress is actually repeating the same mistakes committed by the Congress of Democrats. And both parties were established primarily by people who had left Swapo.
It is important to note that politicians get in trouble when desire nixes their memory. Therefore the nitpicking and mudslinging, although not as public as happened at CoD, are clearly only a scramble for the party’s soul as those at the centre of it feed their own insatiable greed to take over leadership and not necessarily to lead the party to greater heights.
When it became clear that a new political party was on the horizon because of Swapo’s treatment of Hidipo Hamutenya and those who supported him during the 2004 election for Swapo candidacy, many decided to join that new party because of Hamutenya.
They felt that their hero had finally made the move and he would be the solution to many problems Namibia faced. But there were many others who joined because they hoped to get positions. Others also left Swapo not because they saw Hamutenya as the solution but because of their hatred for former Swapo leader Sam Nujoma.
Some of those who joined the party did so because they hoped to revive their political careers as their peers in Swapo started regarding them as spent forces.
There could be other categories, but a minority of genuinely concerned Namibians also joined RDP because they were looking for a viable alternative to Swapo. Their only goal was to break the two-thirds majority and to ensure that Namibia’s democracy remained vibrant.
But there was always the risk of a personality split because of how those who led the formation of RDP had operated when they were in Swapo. Many of them undermined the party leadership if they didn’t agree with how things were done.
In the last few years before they left Swapo the majority of them spent their energies to orchestrate conflicts and direct disorder in their quest to make it look like Swapo was a party full of divisions, backbiting and hatred among comrades.
I am not saying that it is all peace and happiness in Swapo. But I am emphasising the extent to which some people went about creating the impression that the new party they were about to establish was the solution to everything.
But now that they are in positions of responsibility, where they are required to deploy the power given to them as leaders, some leaders are failing to deliver.
One of the reasons for this is because the trust of followers was based partially on the wrong reasons. There was a perception created that the RDP leadership would always remain united and able to fix the disunity problems which were being experienced in Swapo. Another perception was that they were better leaders than those in Swapo.
Thus the disarray and political gangsterism seen elsewhere in Namibian politics would have made way for unity in RDP.
However, selfish individual goals have overtaken the purpose for which the party might have been established and if Hamutenya had not acted with the recent suspension of three leaders he would have been seen as a lame leader.
But the RDP’s problems won’t be resolved by Hamutenya alone.
Others too should agree to let go of personal agendas. Already we have witnessed that since being elected to the National Assembly, the RDP has yet to play a significant role. For instance, they have yet to propose a bill.
If personal issues continue to dominate the inner operations of the party, the RDP will become a disaster as a vehicle for people’s political hopes and as a parliamentary player. In fact it will not have any hope at all. They need not look further than those around them in the National Assembly.
There’s no fudging with unity in political parties as many in CoD will tell you. You win or you don’t.