WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob at the weekend admitted that the 2019 presidential election was competitive after he shrugged off a spirited challenge from independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula to win the presidency, albeit with a reduced majority.
Geingob, who had obtained close to 87 percent in 2014, had to settle for a 56.3 percent this time around, while Itula came second with 29.4 percent.
The president-elect received 464 703 votes, while his main challenger got 242 657. “Democracy has won,” Geingob declared during the official announcement on Saturday evening at the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) results centre. Geingob was seemingly relieved after a tough campaign, which saw him losing support in urban areas, including Windhoek, Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. “This is the only country we can call home. It was not a war with enemies, but we are exercising our democratic rights.
I would like to thank the ECN who had a very difficult task. I would also like to thank those who were participating and competing in the elections.”
Geingob, who is expected to address the nation tonight, also thanked voters on social media before the official announcement on Saturday.
“I wish to thank Namibians for re-electing me as their President. I am humbled and commit to serve the Namibian nation with more passion and utmost dedication, to bring tangible improvements in the lives of our citizens. I have heard you.”
Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani came third in the presidential race, having received 43 959 votes or 5.3 percent of the total vote. In 2014, Venaani had finished second behind Geingob, with 44 271 Namibians voting for him.
The new kid on the block, the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) led by former Swapo youth leader Bernadus Swartbooi, also made an impact in this year’s election by obtaining 22 542 votes in the presidential elections, while UDF’s Apius !Auchab also finished in the top five with 22 115 votes.
The only female presidential candidate, Esther Muinjangue, found the going tough as she could only amass 12 039 votes, compared to 16 740 votes that her predecessor Asser Mbai obtained in 2014.
The oldest political formation in the country, Swanu, saw its presidential candidate Tangeni Iijambo receiving 5 959 votes, a slight improvement from its performance in 2014 when Usutuaije Maamberua stood as candidate. Other presidential contenders received less than 5 000 votes, including Henk Mudge (4 379), Mike Kavekotora (3 515), Ignatius Shixwameni (3 304), while Epafras Mukwiilongo of the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) found himself at the wrong end of the table with 1 026 votes.
There was somewhat a sombre atmosphere at the ECN headquarters when the commission’s chairperson Notemba Tjipueja made the announcement of the official results. Only two presidential candidates - Geingob and Muinjangue - occupied the front row seats, while other leaders boycotted the announcement. Some party representatives were, however, in attendance.
A total of 826 198 Namibians participated in the presidential elections, signifying a voter turnout of 60.8 percent.
Tjipueja, who had declared the elections as free, fair and credible, praised young Namibians for taking part in the process.
“In the past, young people were associated with voter apathy but the observed new trend seems to validate the effectiveness of voter and civic education campaign specifically targeting the youth. These are encouraging signs suggesting that our young people are interested in the political affairs of their country,” she said. She added the recently held elections strengthened Namibia’s democracy as observed by peaceful campaigns leading up to last week’s vote.
“Engaging in a healthy competition is a sign of a vibrant democracy. In fact, it is universally accepted that elections entail competition and choice. It entails candidates vying and canvassing votes and voters making informed choices through the proverbial ballot box. In that sense, a healthy competition is not only good for democracy, but the plurality of voices and choices is necessary if the consolidation of democracy is to be realised,” she said.
“It is very evident that democracy has taken root in Namibia. We must at all costs, guard against unhealthy competition, which can lead us down the path of destruction. We must jealously guard the prevailing peace and stability in our country because socio-economic development and nation-building depend on it.”