The growth and acceptance of opposition politics may be the main factor that more constituencies are to be contested in the upcoming regional council and local authority elections scheduled for 25 November 2020.
Only four constituencies out 121 constituencies countrywide will be uncontested, compared to 26 that went uncontested during the 2015 elections.
The ruling party, Swapo, has fielded candidates in all constituencies of 14 regions.
Opposition parties did not field candidates in the Mankumpi, Nkurenkuru and Torondo constituencies in Kavango West region and Uuvudhiya constituency in Oshana region.
As a result, these constituencies go uncontested and this will automatically mean Swapo candidates will be declared as duly elected.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah has attributed the steep decline in uncontested constituencies to several divergence factors, including the changing nature of voter preference.
Kamwanyah observed that voters are no longer voting based on the party reputation but issues.
“Issue-based politics has opened up space for opposition parties to contest in constituencies where they had no chance because people there would vote for the ruling party no matter what,” Kamwanyah told New Era this week.
He is of the view that change in voter attitudes have bolstered the opposition parties to field candidates in the traditional Swapo stronghold.
He further attributes the decline to political tolerance in the country in terms of how opposition parties are embraced.
“This has provided a conducive and enabling environment for them to mobilise and build support in some of Swapo’s stronghold areas. The emergence of independent candidates and the new political formations have an enlarged pool of parties to contest,” Kamwanyah remarked.
Graham Hopwood, the executive director at the Institute of Public Policy Research, believes Namibia has a much more dynamic and competitive political landscape since the 2019 national elections. Therefore, it is inevitable that more constituencies will be contested in this year’s elections, Hopwood observed.
He believes it is a healthy development for democracy, as voters in most constituencies will now have the choice instead of having a single candidate duly elected.
“There are now four or five viable opposition parties who all have a chance of getting seats along with the ruling party that has been heavily dominant in the past,” Hopwood said.
In November 2015, 95 constituencies were contested in the regional elections and 52 local authorities that were contested in the local elections, according to figures by the Electoral Commission of Namibia.
Five local authorities, namely Okahao, Omuthiyagwiipundi, Oniipa, Outapi and Tsandi, were uncontested as only Swapo fielded candidates at the northern towns.