Not voting is voting

10 October 2019 | Opinion

There is fear that we might witness increased voter apathy in next month's general election due, in part, to the poor turnout observed in recent by-elections, notably in the Ondangwa Urban constituency earlier this year.

It is not clear what is keeping huge armies of voters away from the ballot box, although an emerging theme seems to suggest it has something to do with frustration within the general electorate. There seems to be lack of conviction about what role players on both sides of the political divide can offer to ease the pain of the general citizen.

It is hence feared that the same trend could rear its rebellious head in the national general election next month.

But broadly speaking, by not voting we are not punishing politicians as many may poorly think. By staying away from the ballot box we are short-changing ourselves and our fellow citizens, while allowing the will of a few to rein supreme over us.

It means the government doesn't truly represent the wishes and aspirations of the broader masses, as was the case in Ondangwa where only 3 792 of over 15 000 people in the constituency voted.

The nearly 12 000 voters that stayed away from voting in that constituency did not punish any of the participating candidates, if that's what they thought they were doing.

If voter apathy was due to any frustration, the source of such discontent can only be fixed if voters participated in good numbers in this critical process of democratic consolidation.

Not voting is – technically speaking – voting. Except in this case, such a vote may influence the very situation one thought they were avoiding by not voting.

Where do we draw the legitimacy to demand the services that we want when we did not participate in the crucial process of choosing the very people who should deliver such services?

We may be socially and economically unequal but once in the voting booth, all Namibians are equal. Each vote carries the same weight and determines in equal proportion the future of our country.