Opposition gear up for voter registration, education

Immanuel Nashinge

Opposition parties say they are keen to roll up their sleeves and drive a robust voter registration exercise targeting the youth, as the November presidential and National Assembly elections draw closer.

The forthcoming elections will be the first in which the ruling party, Swapo, will field a woman candidate since the country attained independence 34 years ago.

The polls will see Swapo’s Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in a bruising encounter with ruling party offshoot and leader of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) Panduleni Itula, another Swapo offshoot Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani, as well as two other female candidates in Ally Angula and National Unity Democratic Organisation president Esther Muinjangue.

Speaking to Desert Radio on Thursday, PDM parliamentarian Inna Hengari urged opposition party members to take accountability for their ability to entice Namibians to vote for them and do their part in mobilising for voter registration.

Hengari said opposition parties must take stock of their delivery over the past five years. “Political parties must reflect on what they have done over the years. Whether those efforts have created enough confidence for voters to go to the polls to vote for them is a task that every opposition and ruling party must ask themselves,” she said.

Hengari questioned whether opposition parties, including PDM, have managed to appeal to young Namibians.

“I do not think that we have done enough to entice the young voter. How many activities have we done to include that do not focus on young people in the political domain […] I don’t think enough has been done,” Hengari said.

She urged opposition party members to question their relevance in terms of the day to day issues faced by young people.
Hengari allayed fears that the PDM could be overtaken by the IPC as the official opposition in parliament and said politicians should not be driven by a desire for positions and social standing but focus on delivery. IPC spokesperson Immanuel Nashinge, speaking on the same platform, echoed Hengari’s sentiments on opposition parties’ efforts regarding issues of voter education.

“We need to take responsibility as far as civic education is concerned, but I think we need to go a little further. It comes with the quality of education and quality of leadership that Swapo has been providing to this country for the past 34 years,” he said.

Nashinge added that this aspect has made things easy for Swapo.

“They enjoyed a less informed citizenry, because that was making things easier for them to push whatever they want to,” Nashinge said.

Political analyst Wade Henckert also questioned how attractive opposition parties have made themselves over the years.

He admitted that opposition party members have made great contributions in parliament, however, noted that it might not be enough to test Swapo at the polls. “I don’t think we have matured enough in our democracy to have oppositions overturning the majority party. How do the opposition parties align with each other and strategise to cement what they already have and take it for the next election cycle?”


Over the years, the Namibian media has reported on internal fighting within opposition parties and how this has affected their chances at the polls.

Last week, The Namibian reported on possible differences between LPM leaders Henny Seibeb and Bernadus Swartbooi.
Henckert agreed that squabbles in politics are normal and necessary.

“Squabbles are part of politics and politics is how power is distributed. What is important to look at is how do they evolve within those squabbles […] As a Namibian, when I see a political party with squabbles, it doesn’t make it attractive,” he said.

Nashinge shared Henckert’s sentiments, saying parties are tested most when they have to move on from internal fighting.

“Squabbles are normal among human beings, the secret is how you overcome the challenges facing you. How you go back to the main purpose of your organisation?” Nashinge made reference to this when he was questioned about the 12 IPC members who resigned from the party in 2021 after alleging that the head of the party, Itula, leads with an iron fist.

Hengari, however, encouraged opposition party members to make room for criticism from within and from the outside. “The nature of our politics is that we will always have differences. I think young people must be allowed to express themselves. Many political organisations do not create platforms for internal criticism for internal introspection. These conversations must be welcomed,” Hengari said when questioned on the PDM youth league squabbles at their 2021 congress.

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