Political parties and candidates contesting next week’s regional council and local authority elections are expected to make their last pitch for votes, with campaign rallies planned across the country.
At least 1.4 million Namibians are eligible to vote in the regional council election, while 451 870 have registered to participate in the local authority vote.
The ruling Swapo, Nudo, Landless People’s Movement, Popular Democratic Movement, Independent Patriots for Change have all planned major rallies across the country.
Swapo will hold its final rally at the Sam Nujoma stadium in Katutura where President Hage Geingob will be the keynote speaker.
The PDM will also hold a rally in Katutura on Sunday, while Nudo will have its major event in Okakarara also on Sunday. The LPM will be canvassing for votes one more time in Walvis Bay, with a campaign event slated for Kuisebmond stadium.
New kid on the block, IPC, will hold its major rally in Windhoek tomorrow, before hosting another campaign event at Oshakati.
All People’s Party (APP) Ignatius Shixwameni yesterday told New Era that the party is not holding any rallies but rather having meetings across the country.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora said the party will also not hold rallies due to the Covid-19 restrictions, however, he said the party will engage voters via meetings across the country.
Political commentator and director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood yesterday said it is very difficult to predict voters’ turnout this time around.
“If next Wednesday is declared a public holiday the turnout could go up beyond 40% - above the norm for these type of elections,” Hopwood said.
“We have to remember that Swapo is coming from an exceptionally strong performance five years ago - they won 112 of the 121 regional council seats and controlled 52 of the 57 local authorities.”
He said some Swapo losses are inevitable following the national election results of 2019 as voters blame the party for the state of the economy and rising corruption.
However, he said, the opposition challenge is weakened by the sheer number of parties and candidates taking part.
“This will particularly be the case in the regional council elections where the opposition vote could be split among several parties allowing Swapo as the incumbent to retain seats albeit with a lower vote share,” he said. He said since there is no obvious frontrunner among the opposition, he was expecting quite a number of councils to fall under the category of ‘no overall control’ as no single party will have a majority of voting members.
“This will force elected parties and winning candidates to find ways of working together for the good of their communities,” he said.
A senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at the Namibia University of Science and Technology Admire Mare said campaigns were affected by lockdown protocols so in the end very limited activities took place.
However, he said, independent patriots are an interesting dynamic in the upcoming elections.
“Swapo will win the elections but their dominance will be challenged by PDM, LPM and independent patriots in some constituencies. Voter turnout may also be affected by fears surrounding Covid-19 although the youth are expected to come in their numbers to vote this time around,” he said.
A record number of 93 independent candidates will be competing in this year’s elections, a significant jump from five who contested the 2015 vote.
Hopwood told New Era recently that the idea of independent candidates has become popular following the strong showing by Dr Panduleni Itula last year.
“Obviously, the decision of AR to back candidates will also have boosted the number. Otherwise there seems to be some disgruntled candidates who lost out in their party decision-making processes and then decided to go independent,” Hopwood said.