SWAKOPMUND - The low voter turnout that on Wednesday marred the Walvis Bay Urban by-election was attributed to fatigue, lack of voter education and timing of the voting day. The fact that the day was also not proclaimed a public holiday was cited a contributing factor. A mere 3 593 voters participated in the election out of 23 136 registered and eligible voters. This represents a woeful voter turnout of 8.2 percent. Under 5 000 people voted in the same constituency during the 2015 local and regional authority elections.
Independent candidate Knowledge Ipinge won the election with 1 636 votes followed by Swapo’s Sirie Topulathana with 1 313 votes. Jason Kenneth Iilonga also an independent candidate came in third position with 436 votes, while Richard Hoaeb of PDM could only amass 208 votes. A concerned Amos Nguaiko, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) coordinator in Erongo, says all stakeholders, including political parties, must take voter education seriously. “Some of the voters knew they need to come vote but did not know what they are voting for. We had to explain the process to them in details before they also cast their votes,” he said. He added the turnout of the youth was very low, compared to the elderly and working class who dominated polling stations. “This could be attributed to voter apathy especially among the youth,” he said. He added the recently held by-elections should serve as a guiding tool for political parties ahead of the local and regional authority elections in November this year. “This is indeed the right time to start getting involved with voter education while putting emphasis on the importance of registering on time to be able to vote. Let us not only rely on ECN but do our part as parties and civic organisations,” he said.