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Swapo, Geingob in pole position

2014-11-27  Mathias Haufiku

Swapo, Geingob in pole position
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OPUWO - The ruling party and its presidential candidate Dr Hage Geingob are in pole position for tomorrow’s elections after scoring landslide victories in the special elections for seagoing personnel held in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay earlier this month. At Walvis Bay, Swapo scooped 1 267 of the 1 342 votes for the National Assembly election, while in the presidential election, Swapo’s candidate Dr Hage Geingob scored 1 347 votes of the total of 1 435 votes cast. At Lüderitz the ruling party is leading with 326 out of the 374 votes cast in the National Assembly election, while in the presidential election Swapo’s candidate obtained 339 votes of the 374 votes for the nine participating presidential candidates. As Namibians go to the polls tomorrow for the country’s fifth post-independence elections, many have their reservations about whether the newly-introduced one-day voting system will provide sufficient time for the entire 1 241194 registered voters to cast their votes. The 3 966 polling stations across the country will be open as from 07h00 to 21h00. Voter apathy is also another factor which the Electoral Commission of Namibia has guarded against in the months leading up to the polling date after conducting nationwide voter education campaigns. Figures from past elections show that during the 1994 elections, 156 690 of the 654 189 registered voters did not cast their votes while during the 1999 elections, 337 755 of the 878 869 registered voters failed to cast their votes. During the 2004 elections, 148 473 of the registered 977 742 voters failed to cast their votes, while in the previous elections, 370 659 of the registered 1 181 802 voters did not cast their votes. What the political experts think of tomorrow’s polls Unsurprisingly, several political gurus have predicted a Swapo victory heralded by a strong showing in the presidential elections as well. Institute for Public Policy Research Executive Director Graham Hopwood says Swapo will continue to rule, but pointed out that the interesting aspect during Friday’s polls will be to see who emerges as the official opposition - the DTA or RDP. “What I can say is that the by-election and local authority results from this year combined with the Afrobarometer opinion poll indicate that not much has changed on the political landscape since 2009, in that we will still have a dominant party in the form of Swapo and a number of small parties who mostly exchange votes between each other rather than impact on Swapo’s voter base,” he said. “There are signs that the Prime Minister will gain more votes than the ruling party - possibly several percentage points more if the votes from abroad and the seagoing votes can be taken as indicators. This is because Prime Minister Geingob is viewed as someone who can reach out to communities that do not usually identify with Swapo. Since he has been seen as a conciliator and mediator since his days as the Constituent Assembly chairperson in 1989, he has the potential to bring in minorities and other groups who are not always that comfortable with Swapo,” said the executive director. According to Hopwood: “It looks like Swapo’s northern support will remain solid, judging from the by-elections in Ohangwena and Endola and the strong attendance at rallies. Hence, if that is the case and Geingob is able to bring in more votes from other regions - south, east and west - it is likely he will receive more votes than the party, but both are likely to do very well.” University of Namibia political science lecturer Dr Hoze Riruako is convinced Swapo will continue being the party of choice for many Namibians and that its presidential candidate will appeal to many voters who may not necessarily vote for Swapo. “You have seen Swapo campaign more vigorously than in past elections – this time the party undertook a very inclusive electioneering campaign. Previously it only appealed to bona fide members but this time around it is different,” said Riruako. According to Riruako, many of the youth members of the party will continue to vote for the party although they are not happy with the way some processes are carried out. “As much as the party’s youth challenge the way things are done in the party, they still continue to wear party colours, in essence saying, we give you the mandate to rule but there are things that you should change,” Riruako said. Following yesterday’s judgment in which the Windhoek High Court dismissed an urgent application brought by three opposition parties calling for the postponement of Friday’s elections, Riruako believes the outcome is in favour of the ruling party. “Yesterday’s futile exercise in court will strengthen Swapo’s support base because had the Rally for Democracy and Progress and others been successful, those disgruntled Swapo members would have had something to rejoice about and subsequently have alternative parties to vote for,” he said. With Geingob being a non-Oshiwambo speaker, Riruako said a Geingob presidency will further outline the country’s democratic growth and maturity. By Mathias Haufiku
2014-11-27  Mathias Haufiku

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