Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia held elections over the past two months, with the incumbent revolutionary parties retaining power.
Mozambicans went to the polls on 15 October, followed by Batswana eight days later, while Namibians voted on Wednesday last week.
Frelimo, the party that led Mozambique to independence in 1975 and is now led by Cde Filipe Nyusi won a resounding 73 percent of the vote in an election that was endorsed as free and fair by independent observers. The opposition Renamo rejected the result, approached the court but its petition was dismissed.
The Botswana Democratic Party, which led Botswana to independence in 1966 and is now led by Cde Mokgweetsi Masisi won re-election despite facing a formidable opposition led by his predecessor, Ian Khama. Cde Masisi won 52, 8 percent of the vote, his party winning 38 of the 63 contested seats in parliament.
In Namibia, the South West Africa People’s Organisation, the party that fought against apartheid South Africa to achieve freedom in 1990 retained power as well. The incumbent, Cde Hage Geingob secured 56,3 percent of the vote. In the legislative vote to choose 96 Members of Parliament, his party lost its two-thirds majority after it secured 63 seats, down from 77 while Popular Democratic Movement got 16 seats, an improvement from five seats in the previous plebiscite in 2014.
In Tanzania late last month, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), a party formed in 1977 after independence parties Tanganyika African National Union and Afro-Shirazi Party merged, won more than 99 percent of local government elections. Having scored such a crushing majority in local elections only 11 months before Tanzanians return to the polls to elect a president and legislators, it is highly likely that CCM will be re-elected in overwhelming fashion too.
The results demonstrate that parties of liberation remain popular in southern Africa despite spirited efforts by foreign-backed opposition parties to introduce a new brand of politics in the region; a kind of politics that dismisses the liberation struggles of Sadc peoples while embracing a Western-inspired system of politics.
Former colonial masters and their allies in the West are seeking to re-establish a foothold in the region by orchestrating the rise of their puppets to power. In addition to opposition parties that are obviously openly political, we have seen how some civil society organisations are advancing foreign hegemonic interests in Sadc while pretending to be apolitical.
Faced with a resurging old order, former liberation movements (FLMs) in Southern Africa are regrouping too to thwart the machinations. They are interacting more often, as they did in Victoria Falls in September. At the conference, the FLMs – Zanu-PF, Frelimo, African National Congress of South Africa, CCM, People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), and Swapo – resolved to restrategise against a common enemy, the West, in light of renewed threats from neo-imperialist hegemony whose mission is to destabilise African governments and effect regime change.
Speaking after the Victoria Falls conference, representatives of the FLMs urged greater unity in their ranks.
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Obert Mpofu said, after leading their respective countries to defeat colonialism and apartheid to achieve political independence, FLMs must intensify the efforts to retain political power as a basis to leading their respective countries to achieve economic independence.
“If yesterday we were close allies as we fought to bring freedom where our people perished and were buried in unmarked graves in our different countries as we yearned for our independence, what can therefore separate us after this tortuous and yet self-fulfilling journey? We managed to bring political independence and the next journey is that of economically empowering our people. This vigour with which we brought this cherished freedom is the same which we should apply in the economic battle,” he said.
FLMs and citizens in the region who subscribe to the values of the liberation struggles must be pleased with the parties’ stellar electoral performances this year, hoping that the trend will continue next year and beyond.
We have no doubt that they will achieve this given their longstanding, pro-people histories and their records of delivering on the promises they made pre-independence.
As they win elections and continue to govern, FLMs must feel challenged to renew themselves, bringing younger cadres into their ranks; cadres who are well schooled in the politics of liberation and are unlikely to depart from those popular, pro-Africa principles.
The Julius Nyerere School of Ideology that is being set up in Tanzania is a futuristic, formidable platform to inculcate and sustain those values. This would be the convergence institution for schools of ideology that respective FLMs are building in their respective countries. As it did in the 1960s and 1970s, the Communist Party of China (CCP) is supporting the establishment of national ideological schools and the regional one in Tanzania. CCP recently availed a US$50 million grant towards the construction of the Julius Nyerere School of Ideology which will also serve as the headquarters of FLMs.
Their electoral victories this year and over the years coupled with work towards building a new cadre of leaders through national ideological schools and the regional one in Tanzania is testimony that FLMs are the parties of the past, the present and the future.