Kavango vote haunts PDM

In the 2019 National Assembly election in both Kavango East and Kavango West, Swapo scooped a combined 54 368 votes, while the PDM secured a mere 3 046 votes.

02 June 2020 | Local News

Kenya Kambowe


Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani blames the party's poor performance in last November's general election in the two Kavango regions on a lack of polling agents and Swapo's use of government food aid to secure votes.

He was responding to a Namibian Sun enquiry about why the PDM, which was once a force to be reckoned with in Kavango, when it was still known as the DTA, had been reduced to also-rans.

The outcome of the 1989 elections in Kavango, when it was still one region, showed that 27 256 people voted for Swapo, while 22 046 had cast their ballots for the DTA.

In the 2019 National Assembly election in both Kavango East and Kavango West, Swapo scooped a combined 54 368 votes, while the PDM secured a mere 3 046 votes.

'Could not believe numbers'

“Yes, PDM confirms that we underperformed in the last election. We could not believe our numbers,” Venaani said.

“One of the issues is that we did not have polling agents at the polling stations which means that our votes were not secured. Swapo's strategy of using government aid is heavily working in Kavango. Our technical teams are working on a strategy to counter that,” he said.

Venaani said that due to the coronavirus pandemic, the party's footprint ahead of the 2020 regional and local government elections has been affected, as they could not continue with their door-to-door campaign strategy. He also mentioned that in July, the official opposition party will deliberate on a report that touches on a variety of issues that include its poor performance in certain regions, issues of regional governance structures, as well as strategies on how to make a significant impact during the upcoming elections.

'PDM has no hope'

Political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said it is a fact that the official opposition's footprint has declined drastically in the two Kavango regions, adding there is no future for the PDM in the north-eastern regions. “Well, it's obvious there is no future for PDM in Kavango and we have seen since independence the gradual change, as many people in Kavango have turned to Swapo, which includes former DTA heavyweights,” he said.

Kamwanyah added that the PDM did well in the past because of prominent individuals from the region, such as the late Hambukushu chief Alfons Mayavero, Aloys Gende and Vincent Kanyetu.

Both Kanyetu and Gende served as PDM secretary-generals.

Having left the PDM, Kanyetu now serves as the All People's Party (APP) secretary-general, while Ngende also joined the APP and made a shocking appearance at the Swapo Kavango East Star Rally at Rundu ahead of the November 2019 elections, where he was welcomed to the blue, red and green clan.

“We have seen that PDM does not have any prominent figures in the regions and in their structures, and that has made it difficult for the party to garner support,” Kamwanyah said.


Venaani does not agree that the heavyweights who left the PDM over the years took voters with them.

He said Kanyetu, his former close ally, has not helped the APP to grow, citing the outcome of the November elections. Venaani further said Gende only joined Swapo during the elections, and mentioned that he doubts he made a significant impact.

The opposition party leader said the perspective that party heavyweights left with supporters is not right, stressing that people vote according to trends, therefore, those claimed heavyweights have not contributed to the party's current poor performance. Despite its poor results in the Kavango regions during the past election, the PDM managed to secure 16 seats in the National Assembly, a notable increase from the five they obtained in 2014.

Nationally, Swapo garnered 536 861 votes or 65.45% of the vote, losing 14 seats in the National Assembly compared to five years earlier, while the PDM surprised friend and foe alike, by scooping 136 576 votes (16.65%).

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