Swapo holds on by fingernails

Preliminary results show the ruling party losing ground in urban centres, especially in southern and coastal regions.

27 November 2020 | Politics



Swapo continued from where it left off with its downward spiral in last year's election by having its hold onto key constituencies and local authorities slip through its fingers, early results of this week's regional and local authority elections show.

Although many results were still pending by the time of going to print late yesterday, Swapo had already lost 22 constituencies in comparison to the nine they lost overall in 2015. While the ruling party retained its strongholds in the north and the two Kavango regions, it lost further ground in the Erongo Region, where the Walvis Bay Rural, Walvis Bay Urban and Swakopmund constituencies were wrestled from its hands by newcomers Independent Patriots for Change (IPC). With United Democratic Front (UDF) retaining Daures Constituency, Swapo only retained Omaruru, Karibib and Arandis. Swapo also proved strong in the Otjozondjupa Region, where it held onto the constituencies of Okahandja, Otjiwarongo, Otavi, Grootfontein and Tsumkwe, while the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) retained Okakarara and Omatako.

Swapo lost Keetmanshoop Urban, Keetmanshoop Rural and Karasburg East constituencies to the Landless People's Movement (LPM) but retained Nami#nus by a nominal margin.

Three constituencies in the /Karas Region, namely Berseba, Karasburg West and Oranjemund, were still to declare their results by the time of going to print yesterday.

In Khomas, Swapo lost Windhoek East, Windhoek Rural and Katutura Central constituencies to IPC, LPM and the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) respectively, but the party retained Katutura East, Tobias Hainyeko, John Pandeni, Khomasdal and Moses Garoeb constituencies, while a fierce contest awaited in Windhoek West by late yesterday.

In Kunene, Swapo held onto Outjo but lost Epupa, Opuwo Rural and Opuwo Urban to the PDM, as well as Sesfontein and Khorixas to the UDF.

Another traditionally contested region, Omaheke, had only announced the results for Aminuis, won by Nudo, as well as Kalahari and Otjombinde, which the ruling party won.

In the Zambezi Region, independent candidates won in Kongola and Linyanti constituencies, but results were still pending for six more constituencies in that region.

In Kavango East, a Swapo stronghold, the party had won Rundu Urban, Mukwe and Ndiyona at the time of going to print, but lost Rundu Rural to its former member Paulus Mbangu.

In Kavango West, the party had won Musese, Nkurenkuru and Mpungu. It had also automatically won Tondoro and Mankupi, where no other party fielded a candidate.

The ruling party narrowly prevailed in Ondangwa Urban Constituency and also won the fiercely contented Omuthiya.

Swapo is expected to win all constituencies in Oshana, Omusati and Ohangwena, to continue a culture of unfettered dominance in those regions.

In Hardap, Swapo lost Rehoboth to the LPM and may face similar difficulties in the rest of the region, which seems to have swung in favour of the Bernadus Swartbooi-led opposition party.

Local authorities

During these campaigns, Swapo hammered home a message of wanting to win convincingly and keep the “disruptive” opposition at bay.

This, according to Swapo, was so that the party could implement its development plans without hindrance from opposition benches.

However, the party has lost a number of seats on local authority councils, making for an interesting era going forward.

At Lüderitz, for example, Swapo won three of the seven seats, leaving the majority of seats to the opposition as a collective.

At Swakopmund the same is observed, with both Swapo winning three seats, while the Swakopmund Ratepayers Association (SRA) has won one, leaving the opposition still in the majority.

This scenario may lead to more local authority councils being led by opposition mayors, a fairly new phenomenon in Namibian politics.

2019 headaches extended

Executive director of the Institution for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood yesterday said: “The elections have largely continued the trends of the 2019 elections - a disparate opposition challenge has produced good results for LPM in the south and for IPC at the coast.

“Swapo's support in the central north and the two Kavango regions has mostly remained solid and the party will take some comfort from the fact that it has held most of the populous constituencies in Katutura and therefore looks likely to retain control of the Khomas Regional Council.”

He expects the opposition to control several regional councils, especially in //Karas, Hardap, Erongo, and Kunene.

“These councils will have to establish productive relationships with central government and also the regional governors if they are to see progress in their regions. On the positive side, this could see a more cooperative, less confrontational type of politics emerging where parties 'reach across the aisle' to work with each other in the national interest,” Hopwood said.

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