Trust in government wanes

Namibians' trust in government has decreased dramatically, a recent Afrobarometer survey has found.

25 March 2020 | Local News



Namibians' trust in political institutions like the office of the president, the army, the justice system and the police is in sharp decline, a new study has shown.

According to these findings, the proportion of Namibians who say they trust the president “somewhat” or “a lot” dropped by 21% between 2014 and 2019, from 81% to 60%.

President Hage Geingob was elected by an overwhelming margin on 28 November 2014.

Electoral Commission

of Namibia

The latest Afrobarometer survey found that this is also true for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), which is trusted by just one of five people.

Just a slim majority of 54% of Namibians say they trust the ECN, a decrease from 74% in 2014. Only 21% of respondents say they trust the ECN 'a lot',” the study said.

Meanwhile, commission CEO Theo Mujoro said while he has not yet seen the findings of the survey, people should look at the Supreme Court judgement of 5 February and see what it says about the ECN.

“We have successfully conducted two by-elections recently using manual ballot papers. “We are now focusing on the 2020 regional council and local authority elections and the election programme is firmly on course,” he said.

National Assembly

Furthermore, the study found that citizens' trust in the National Assembly has also plunged dramatically since 2014, reaching its lowest level of 45% since the first Afrobarometer survey in 1999 when it stood at 74%. Social commentator Frederico Links said these findings show how Namibians feel about their government's ability to deliver services. According to him, this dissatisfaction with government performance is coloured by mismanagement and corruption.

“We see this gradual slide in people's perception of the government. It is concerning, because if people lose trust in government institutions, then they will withdraw from engaging these institutions. It would lead to a loss of legitimacy,” he said.

Links added that the symptoms of this dissatisfaction are the increasing protests in the country against government's failure to deliver services.

Peaceful protests

The country has seen in increase in peaceful protests by unemployed university graduates as well as young activists against the legitimacy of the justice system as well as that of the ECN.

Last month, groups of dissatisfied Namibians protested in some parts of the country, demanding that Geingob step down as head of state or that the election is re-run.

This followed the Supreme Court ruling that the use of electronic voting machines during the 2019 presidential elections, which Geingob and Swapo won, was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court, however, did not set aside the election results.

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