Namibia’s First Presidential Debate a Win for Democracy

Gideon Kapuka

Public debates between presidential candidates are often regarded as a benchmark of competitive and open elections.

However, such debates have not yet become entrenched in Namibia.

Nonetheless, it seems a new era is about to dawn ahead of this year’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

Namibia’s first presidential debate ahead of the 2024 elections is set to take place next week.

Efforts like this can only help better consolidate democracy in Namibia. Windows of hope are important for transparency.

Debates enable political contestants to prove their fitness for office in addressing issues the country and its citizens face, such as youth unemployment, corruption, inequalities, regional and national level development and the redistribution of land and resources, among others.

They also allow voters to witness candidates’ performances beyond prepared scripts, including assessing their responses to challenging questions.

Debates can also showcase a candidate’s ability to think on their feet, handle pressure, and demonstrate their grasp of pertinent facts.

Most importantly, they subject candidates to public scrutiny, compelling them to explain their platforms, defend their positions against opponents’ criticisms, and justify why they should be elected.


Debates between candidates have become an integral part of the electoral process in at least 78 countries.

Among others, they are held in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, India and Brazil.

It will be intriguing to witness presidential candidates from Swapo, PDM, LPM, IPC, UDF, Nudo, APP, NEFF, RDP, AR, CDV, and Swanu go toe-to-toe and endeavour to persuade voters to support them.

As Namibia prepares to embark on this journey of political discourse, the significance of such debates cannot be overstated.

They offer a rare opportunity for the electorate to engage directly with those vying for the highest office in the land, allowing voters to gauge not only their policies but also the character and competence of candidates.

Moreover, in a country where democratic traditions are still evolving, these debates symbolise a step towards a more participatory and informed electorate.

The excitement surrounding the inaugural presidential debate is palpable, with citizens eagerly anticipating the clash of ideas and an exchange of visions on the nation’s future.

For many, it marks a turning point in Namibia’s democratic journey – a moment where the voice of the people takes centre stage.


The stakes are high. Each candidate knows that their performance in this forum could make or break their campaign, swaying undecided voters and solidifying support among their base.

The pressure to perform is immense, but so too are the rewards for those who can articulate a compelling vision and connect with the electorate on a personal level.

As the candidates prepare to take the stage, all eyes will be on them.

The nation waits with bated breath, eager to see democracy in action and hopeful of a brighter future.

  • * Gideon Kapuka is a researcher, writer and business consultant.

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