By Staff reporter
WINDHOEK, May 11 — The recent state visit of Namibian President Hage Geingob to South Africa not only strengthened bilateral relations but also highlighted the historical ties between the ruling parties of both nations. However, as both the South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) and the African National Congress (ANC) face a decline in political legitimacy, they must confront tough choices ahead of the upcoming 2024 elections. This article examines the challenges faced by Swapo and the ANC and the implications for democracy in Namibia and South Africa.
Historical Solidarity and Lessons Learned: Geingob’s address to the ANC’s national executive committee emphasized the deep bonds of solidarity formed during the liberation struggles. However, both parties must move beyond nostalgic reminiscences and address present failures rather than relying solely on past achievements. Romanticizing the past risks undermining constitutionalism and deflecting attention from the current challenges faced by both nations.
A Shared History: From Liberation Movements to Governments: The relationship between Namibia and South Africa has a special significance due to the apartheid era and the subsequent struggle for independence. Swapo and the ANC emerged as the majority parties in their respective countries following democratic elections. The successful transition from liberation movements to governments was marked by the drafting of democratic constitutions and the establishment of independent judiciaries.
Erosion of Political Legitimacy: In recent years, both Swapo and the ANC have experienced a decline in popular support and political legitimacy. The ANC’s once overwhelming majority has gradually diminished, and projections for the 2024 elections suggest the party may lose its absolute majority. Similarly, Swapo faced a setback in the 2019 elections, losing its two-thirds majority. The erosion of their control over regional and local governments has forced both parties to engage in coalition building.
Political Alliances and Loss of Trust: The erosion of trust and declining delivery of basic services have contributed to the diminishing popularity of both Swapo and the ANC. State capture and allegations of corruption have further eroded public trust. As politics becomes a matter of negotiated alliances, principles are often compromised for the sake of power, undermining citizens’ confidence in the political system.
The Road Ahead: 2024 Elections and the Limits of Liberation: The 2024 elections will be a crucial test for both parties. The ANC may face the prospect of forming a coalition government, while Swapo’s electoral prospects seem relatively better. However, the former liberation movements must confront their democratic deficits and address the disillusionment of the electorate. The response to further decline will determine the future of democracy in Namibia and South Africa.
The Role of Opposition Parties: As the former liberation movements grapple with their challenges, opposition parties are expected to play an increasingly significant role. However, these parties must present credible alternatives that prioritize the well-being of ordinary citizens to effectively challenge the incumbent parties’ dominance.
Conclusion: The decline in political legitimacy faced by Swapo and the ANC raises important questions about the future of democracy in Namibia and South Africa. As both parties enter a crucial election year, they must confront their failures, regain the trust of the people, and address the pressing issues affecting their nations. The ability to adapt and respond to these challenges will shape the trajectory of democracy in the region. – Namibia Daily News