Swapo barely escapes knockout blow

17 June 2019 | Local News

Swapo was rattled in the Ondangwa Urban by-election on Saturday by 27-year-old political novice, independent candidate Angelina Immanuel, who lost a closely fought race to ruling party candidate Leonard Sunday Negonga.

This was after a bruising campaign, which saw Swapo unleashing its bigwigs, including Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba on Immanuel.

Negonga is the new constituency councillor after receiving 1 936 votes, while Immanuel garnered 1 402 votes. Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Johannes Martin received 326 votes, while All People's Party's (APP) Asser Vincent got 97 votes.

Mandume Tuhafeni of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) could only muster 31 votes. A total of 3 792 votes were cast. Swapo's vote dropped significantly from 92% in 2015 to 51% this time around.

Swapo Oshana regional coordinator Samuel Nelongo described the result as a wake-up call to the party to start delivering on the promises it makes during elections campaigns.

Nelongo said over 15 000 people were expected to vote, but only 3 792 votes were cast. He said this was a message to the party that people were not happy.

“The people of Ondangwa have spoken that they want Swapo to change and start fulfilling the promises made to the public during campaigns. As a leader of the region I will take this message seriously,” he said.

“However, those that voted have proven they trust the Swapo Party with their development needs and that is why they voted to us.”

Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) returning officer for the by-election, Rauna Nkandi, said they did not experience any major challenges.

Martin said they are happy that the PDM had gathered more votes in this by-election than in 2015 regional and local authority polls.

During the 2015 election, 4 267 votes were cast, with Swapo receiving 3918, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) 117 and the PDM 232.

Paulus Paulus, who was part of Immanuel's election team, said Swapo must prepare for the upcoming Oshakati East by-election.

“We are going to the drawing board and Swapo must be ready for more. We are the winner of this election because if you are fighting with a lion you do not expect to win, but if you manage to break one of its legs, then that is a major achievement because neither you nor the lion expected it,” Paulus said.

Vincent Kanyetu of APP said they did not invest much in their by-election campaign, but managed to gain votes.