The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has called on registered voters to throng to polling stations next week Wednesday as the nation votes in the regional council and local authority elections.
The regional and local authority elections have over the years seen a poor turnout and ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja hopes the situation will not repeat itself this time around.
Despite recording an impressive 92% voter turnout in 1992, the interest has seemingly waned over the years.
In the last regional council and local authority elections in 2015, the voter turnout was a woeful 39% and 33% respectively.
The most recent by-elections this year in Otjiwarongo and Opuwo recorded 25% and 42% voter turnout.
The Khomasdal constituency by-election which was also held during the same period recorded the lowest ever of 8.2% in Namibian elections.
“It is against this background that the commission has been calling for corroborative efforts by all electoral stakeholders, including political parties, media, and civil society to take up the challenge in redoubling our collective efforts to ensure adequate voter and civic education, and to ensure adequate dissemination of electoral information to every eligible voter,” Tjipueja noted.
She urged every eligible Namibian voter to go out in droves to the polling points to cast their votes, saying this is an opportunity availed to the electorate to elect their local representatives who will be charged with the responsibility of dealing with the “bread and butter” issues which affect ordinary citizens.
She also called on election observers to exercise impartiality, accuracy, and professionalism.
ECN said international and regional election observer missions are unable to travel to Namibia to observe the elections due to travel restrictions and health concerns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. President Hage Geingob has declared Wednesday a public holiday to “allow Namibians to exercise their democratic right to vote and to carry out their civic duties in that regard as citizens”.
The ECN yesterday indicated it was well prepared to conduct the elections next week, saying all indications are that the commission can expect a particularly competitive regional and local authority vote. About 18 political parties and 13 associations have registered to take part in the elections countrywide.
A total number of 502 candidates, of whom 92 are independent candidates, will compete in all constituencies.
“Notable is the unprecedented number of independent candidates and associations taking part in these elections. The ECN notes that the election campaign so far has generally been peaceful and a calm atmosphere has prevailed across the country. No serious incidents of acts of violence have been officially reported to the ECN,” she stated.