Two-horse race

With only about 200 000 of the votes counted in the National Assembly and presidential polls late yesterday afternoon, the country was already abuzz with what these preliminary results would mean for the new parliament in 2020.

29 November 2019 | Politics

With about 27% of presidential and National Assembly results revealed yesterday at constituency collation centres to our reporters in the field, a side-by-side tussle between President Hage Geingob and independent Panduleni Itula in the race to State House has turned election 2019 into a watershed moment for the Land of the Brave.

Initial figures showed that Itula routed Geingob, who is Swapo's official presidential candidate, at the coast. The independent candidate also took massive chunks of the Khomas vote and in the northern parts of the country.

At the time of going to print late yesterday only 33 of the 121 constituencies were counted, with Geingob hovering just above 46% of votes cast in those areas. Breathing down his neck was Itula at 38%.

In total, 262 678 votes were counted in the presidential race. For the National Assembly, 28 constituencies (262 678 voters) were counted, with Swapo leading with 56% at the time.

With over 70% of the votes still to be counted at the time, the votes in both races were expected to keep fluctuating.

The initial trends painted a significantly strengthened opposition vote and a two-horse gallop to State House.

As expected, the Landless People's Movement (LPM) was buoyed by positive returns in the //Karas and Hardap regions. But what was not anticipated was the massive inroads parties like the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) would make across the country.





As if a hidden hand had coordinated swathes of voters, while the presidential vote was left to Geingob and Itula to fight over, the opposition gained tremendously from the National Assembly vote.

In fact, it appears that supporters of Itula, who retains his Swapo membership, voted for the opposition in an attempt to break the ruling party's two-thirds majority in parliament.



Early trends

Results from collation centres in the 121 constituencies trickled in slowly yesterday at the central elections result centre (CERC) set up at the ECN head office in Windhoek.

By late afternoon preliminary results were collected by Namibia Media Holdings' own journalists in the field.

From these, the apparent trend for the presidential race showed a contest primarily between Geingob, who took an early lead, and Itula.

Trailing behind the two frontrunners were PDM president McHenry Venaani at 6% and Landless People's Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi at 4.59% of the vote.

In Ohangwena Geingob bagged a surprise 75.8%, leaving rival Itula trailing in the dust with 20.7%.

Geingob made a clean sweep in Kavango West and Kavango East regions, garnering 89.3% and 91.6% of the collated votes respectively.

Geingob also clinched the vote in Omaheke where he got 57%, while Itula got 15.5%, and Venaani got 11%. The rest of the pack trailed far behind with very low percentages of the vote.

Itula took the lead in the Khomas and Erongo regions where he garnered 53.7% and 44.2% respectively, kicking dust in Geingob's face who got 32.7% and 37.1% respectively.

Geingob again took the lead in the Hardap Region with 42.3%, followed by Venaani (18.7%) and Swartbooi (18.3%), and Itula (15%).

Swartbooi closed the gap between him and Geingob in //Karas where he got 28.4% to Geingob's 35.4%. Here, Itula got 25.1% of the vote.

By mid-afternoon the Swapo Party was leading the way with 56% of the vote, followed by the PDM (22%), LPM (8%), Republican Party (3.), and the United Democratic Front (UDF) with 3% of the votes cast and collated in seven regions.



Election Day

Election Day was a proud day to be a Namibian. Young and old from all backgrounds, the sick and infirm, some in wheelchairs or on crutches, flocked in steady streams to the 4 241 polling stations nationwide.

They dug in their heels and endured long queues in the hot sun, refusing to leave until they had cast their votes.

There were reports of polling stations having opened only at 10:00 due to technical glitches with the electronic voting machines (EVMs) or other logistical hiccups, but the voters refused to budge.

All through the day there was little sign of any kind of animosity between supporters of different parties.

Gone were the reported threats of violence and intimidation of which the high-ranking army offer, Martin Kambulu Pinehas, had warned. Gone were the party sloganeering and party colours.

In this peaceful atmosphere at most polling stations, Namibians acted responsibly in a genial and tolerant manner towards each other, where everyone felt safe enough to vote for the candidate and party of their choice.



Hiccups

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) acknowledged some hiccups that had occurred at some polling stations, but stated that it was “fully in charge” of the situation.

Barely an hour before the closing of the polls chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro stated that the ECN was “confident of the ongoing process”, that it was “on top of the game”, and that the commission had sufficient capacity to deal with challenges as they happened.

Because of delays at many polling stations, the ECN on election night also gave the assurance that all voters lining up at polling stations would be attended to.

That meant that anybody in the queue by 21:00 on 27 November would have been allowed to vote, even if that vote could only be cast in the early hours of the next morning due to delays.



CATHERINE SASMAN

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