Poll buzz still missing

20 August 2019 | Columns

The low voter turnout in the local and regional authority elections of 2015, and to some extent the general election in 2014, was attributed to voter fatigue.

Poor voter turnout is an issue that should concern all of us. Namibia still suffers high voter apathy, especially within the ranks of the youth.

Bar the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2014, there have been significant signs that the enthusiasm to vote in local and regional authority elections has been waning in the country. The youth vote will once again prove to be decisive later this year and political parties will be hoping to use their campaigns to entice this specific bloc of potential voters. The Electoral Commission of Namibia and political parties will have to focus a greater part of their voter education programmes on targeting the youth, who make up more than 60% of potential voters.

Although Namibians are going to the polls within three months, election fever is yet to set in. With daunting challenges such as job-creation, economic growth, corruption, education and health, among others, one would expect political parties to come out strongly and unveil their package of policy proposals well ahead of time.

A wait-and-see attitude discourages potential voters, who would want to read about substantive pledges on reforms. Potential voters want to know what promises political parties are making on key issues such as land, housing, education, health and economic growth.

Voters simply want to know what political parties stand for on an array of issues and that is what democracy is all about. Political parties must be open and allow for a battle of ideas, in order to help create the necessary buzz around elections.

A continuous voter awareness campaign by the ECN and other roleplayers, such as the media and civil society, will not be enough for voter sensitisation. Voters must be spoiled for choice in choosing their preferred candidates and political party to represent them in the National Assembly.

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