McHenry Venaani has a tough five years ahead of him.
Sure, he just won a cushy parliamentary seat with all the benefits attached to it. But make no mistake: campaigning is easy, being in Parliament is hard. As Mario Cuomo said in reference to American politics, you “campaign in poetry but govern in prose.” Elections are exciting, but governance is not.
Things will be tough for Venaani because he’ll have to tread a terribly fine line.In his concession speech, he said that “As leader of the official opposition-elect I will keep you on your toes.” But try convincing a party that just won 80% of the vote to let you have a say in decisions. If Venaani wants to have influence over laws, he’ll have to be conciliatory and make friends with Swapo.
But this won’t necessarily help him in the electoral realm, where many supporters want to see a robust opposition giving Swapo trouble. If you’re just going to cooperate with the ruling party, what’s the role of the opposition? The challenge is to strike a perfect balance — keeping them on their toes, as he said, but still cooperating enough to maybe have a say. Those waters are tough to navigate: the party will want to point to a record of achievements to set itself apart from Swapo in the next election, but can’t do anything without Swapo. This is not an enviable position to be in.