Parties uncertain over participationin looming presidential debate

Ally Angula and Rosa Namises

… only four parties and two independent candidates confirm

Several political parties remain uncertain about joining the upcoming presidential candidates’ discussion slated for Thursday in Windhoek.

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) organised the debate to allow the public to engage and hear from presidential candidates before the upcoming elections in November.

Those that have confirmed their participation include Affirmative Repositioning (AR), United Democratic Front (UDF), United People’s Movement (UPM), Rosa Namises and Ally Angula, while it remains unclear if Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) will attend.

The debate will serve as a platform for presidential candidates to share their intentions and stances on key policy issues, as a way to contribute to the general vigour and robustness of democratic and political discourse.

According to KAS, voter apathy and poor voter turnout can be attributed to a myriad of complex and inter-related issues, of which some are the lack of awareness, insufficient information on candidates and their related manifestos and party programmes.

KAS senior programme manager and the event organiser Dennis Zaire told The Namibian yesterday that invitations were sent to 11 parties, which includes Swapo, Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), PDM, Landless People’s Movement (LPM), Namibia Economic Freedom Fighter (NEFF), National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), AR, UPM, UDF and the independent candidates; Namises and Angula.

“The idea is to run the first round now, analyse the situation and run the second round later, where we include the parties that aren’t part of the first invitation,” said Zaire.

He said the ruling party will not be participating.

“They have indicated to us on Friday that their candidate will not be in the country by the time of the event,” he said.

Swapo deputy secretary general Uahekua Herunga, however, says they are not aware of the discussion.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani says it will be a constructive debate and he would participate willingly in subsequent debates, however, he might not participate as he is not in the country.

Meanwhile, IPC national spokesperson Imms Nashinge says his party will not be participating, because they are waiting for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to announce the list of the eligible candidates.

LPM national spokesperson Lifalaza Simaata says his party is uncomfortable in participating, as KAS is organising it.

He accused KAS of having aligned with certain political parties.

Political analyst Rui Tyitende says presidential debates will strengthen the country’s democracy, as Namibian citizens will know who has a transformative development blueprint for the country.

“Can prospective candidates articulate a clear vision for the country without reading from a speech crafted by some consultant, personal assistant or speech writer? . . . Do they have ideas of their own or are they significantly influenced by the coterie of political and economic entrepreneurs around them?” he asks.

Tyitende says presidential candidates need to participate in these types of debates as it would provide voters, especially undecided voters, an opportunity to decide who best represents their needs.

He says Swapo will not participate as they have concluded that their party will remain in power until Jesus comes and, therefore, do not need to present their development plans for the country.

Political researcher Gideon Kapuka says efforts like these can help better consolidate democracy in Namibia.

“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,” he says.

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

This is the third presidential debate KAS has organised; the first one was hosted in 2014 and the last one in 2019.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News