Upping the registration ante

23 July 2019 | Columns

It remains to be seen whether the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is really succeeding in motivating young people to register to vote in the November presidential and National Assembly elections. The youth vote is significant, considering that young people will hold kingmaker status in the coming elections. As much as young people represent a potentially powerful political force, it is worth noting that the majority are socially marginalised. For years the youth, who potentially constitute over 60% of the national vote, have persistently complained about being left out, especially when it involves decision-making roles. For the upcoming elections, the ECN is conducting supplementary voter registration between 8 and 27 July. There are, thus, only a few days to go. However, we are disappointed with the level of engagement, especially on the part of political parties and civil society, who are not playing a prominent role in sensitising potential youth voters to register for the upcoming elections. Swapo, with its well-oiled machinery, is also failing to get the right message across to its potential voters. The brouhaha surrounding the by-election in the north is seemingly enjoying prominence at the expense of the ongoing registration process. Both Swapo and the opposition, including those promoting the concept of independent candidates, are nowhere to be found when it comes to voter education programmes. As a nation grappling with the serious issue of voter apathy, we cannot be content with the status quo, which has seen a number of eligible voters abandoning their all-important fundamental civil right. While it is true that many young people are disengaged and disillusioned with politics, owing to dismal campaigns and the failure of politicians to inspire the electorate, there is no doubt that they can gain greater control over their future through demonstrating their democratic right of voting. Political parties and civil society must be part and parcel of this process, because it is not only the responsibility of the ECN to educate and lure voters to the polling booths.

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