Monday, November 17, 2014

Namibia: Voter apathy rocks Windhoek

A Windhoek West Constituency by-election has seen a shockingly low voter taurnout, causing political analysts to blame the opposition for failing to provide a credible alternative to the ruling party.

Only 3 398 out of 27 000 registered voters cast their ballots in the by-election. Namibian Sun was greeted by empty queues this past Friday.

Votes for all political parties, who contested the by-election, were also significantly lower than what they received during the 2004 and 2010 regional council elections for the constituency.

During 2004, Swapo’s candidate won with 3 408 votes, while in 2010 the party received 3 090 votes, which is significantly more than the 2 685 votes scored by ruling party candidate George Trepper this time.

The Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) seems to be on a downward spiral.
In 2010, the RDP’s candidate received 1 852 votes, this time the party’s candidate Maureen Dunn recieved a mere 315 votes.

The Congress of Democrats (CoD) also saw a humiliating decline in votes. During the 2004 elections, the CoD received 1 324 votes in Windhoek West. In 2010, the party received a mere 181 votes, while this time CoD’s Joseph Amadhila received only 53 votes.

Political commentator Phanuel Kaapama said that within two weeks Namibians are going to the polls for the presidential and National Assembly elections, and most political parties are gearing up for those polls.

“The close proximity of the presidential and National Assembly elections took the attention away from the Windhoek West by-election,” he said. Another political commentator Hoze Riruako agreed and said people are more focused on the upcoming general elections.Riruako said it all goes back to voter education.

“Even now, not much importance is attached to the National Council, compared to the National Assembly. People just don’t consider regional council elections important, which is unfortunate,” he said.

Riruako said the level of voter apathy seen during this past Friday’s by-election can also be attributed to the fact that political parties only campaign during election time.

“Politicking must be a continuous process. It can’t only happen at election time. Opposition parties need to do more. They can’t wait for the last minute to start campaigning. Swapo receives credit for being a former liberation movement and so that gives Swapo an edge.”

“That’s why opposition parties should always be visible, so they can attract people to their polls to vote for them,” he said.
“The opposition has failed to provide a credible alternative,” Riruako said.

He said because of Swapo’s liberation struggle credentials, opposition parties, should focus on attracting the votes of liberals, the youth and born-frees, but they are failing in this regard.

“The opposition needs to wake up and put up a real challenge,” he said.

The Namibian Sun

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