Power to the people!

Women, youth voters have nation’s poll fate in their hands

08 November 2019 | Politics

With over 400 000 of the 1.3 million registered voters for the 27 November National Assembly and presidential elections categorised as 'born-frees', and 717 809 registered women voters versus 640 659 men, the youth and women voting blocs will likely decide Namibia's fate at the polls.

Of those registered, 5 846 are aged 95 and above, while 55 699 are between the ages of 75 and 95. A total of 192 877 registered voters are aged between 55 and 75, while 403 398 are between the ages of 38 and 54. The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) this week released the official list of registered voters, which shows the highest number of registered voters are in the Khomas, Ohangwena and the Omusati regions.

The lowest registered voters are in Omaheke, Zambezi and Hardap.

Political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said in terms of stronghold politics, these statistics swing the pendulum towards Swapo, as it enjoys a lot of support from the three regions with the highest number of registered voters.

“That is at the party level. At presidential level it is a different story, because the large number of registered voters in the Khomas and Omusati regions might increase independent candidate Panduleni Itula's chances,” Kamwanyah said.

“This is for the simple reason that Omusati is widely seen as the epicentre of opposition against President Hage Geingob, whereas the Khomas Region houses a lot of educated voters, who tend to look at everything government does with a critical eye, and are therefore likely not to go for Hage.”

Kamwanyah added there will be stiff competition from opposition parties as well as the many splinter groups that formed out of the 2017 Swapo elective congress.





The ECN recorded a total of 1.3 million voters registered, of which 403 106 are born-frees (those born in 1990 and after), while a mere 8 623 are millennials born from 2000 onwards.



According to Kamwanyah a huge chunk of the youth vote will go to Itula, but whether they turn up at the polls remains to be seen.



“For the millennials, it is not a surprise that they recorded a low number. This is in line with the world trend that millennials are unreliable when it comes to participating in elections.



“One might say they are unconcerned with politics, but also because they have different priorities, especially that politics sometimes does not address their needs.”



Kamwanyah pointed out that the low number of registered voters in the //Karas and Hardap regions is “bad news” for the Landless People's Movement (LPM), whose biggest support comes from landless people and the south of the country.



“I cannot understand why the numbers are looking like this and where the apathy is coming from. With the land issues and ancestral land demands, one would have thought that a large number of voters would have registered. They would definitely have to work hard to make inroads in other regions,” he said.



Another political commentator Hoze Riruako said the LPM has the potential to draw support from other regions and sectors of the country.



“I agree their stronghold is the south, but if you look at their leadership structure, they have tried by all means to be inclusive and to bring in people from the northern parts of the country. So I do not believe they will only canvass in the south. Traditionally the south is not only less populated, but for years people have not been coming out to vote,” he said.







Swapo tussle



Riruako also argued that Swapo is doing a shoddy job in distancing itself from Itula, who in his view is taking Namibians for a ride by riding on the Swapo ticket, but ridiculing the party's duly elected presidential candidate.



Swapo has repeatedly condemned Itula's independent candidacy and accused him of violating the party's constitution, but is yet to haul him before a disciplinary hearing.



“When you look at Itula as individual he is everything Swapo. He is part and parcel of Swapo. I also do not think the Swapo camps behind Geingob are doing enough to paint a clear picture that there is only one Swapo, which is represented by a president who has been elected by a national congress of Swapo.



“What he (Itula) is doing now is to campaign with Swapo's shortcomings and Swapo is failing to show the people that he is part of those failures,” Riruako said.







Omusati factor



The Omusati Region recorded the third highest number of registered voters at 146 256.



“Omusati has always been a key factor in Swapo; that is why you have the Omusati clique and you heard about Oshiwambo-speaking meetings.



“But one of the key players there is (Swapo Oshikoto regional coordinator) Armas Amukwaya, who has pledged his support for Geingob.



“I do not know how this will play out for Geingob, but Omusati is certainly one of the most important areas.



“There was also a push for the Ondonga people to consolidate their support, so there are a number of dynamics in this area. How they play out depends on the penetration of the current candidates and their political supporters and wings on the ground,” Riruako said.



Riruako also said the fact that independent candidate Angelina Immanuel almost overtook Swapo candidate Leonard Negonga in the recent Ondangwa Urban constituency by-election shows how big a factor independent candidature is.



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JEMIMA BEUKES

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