from AFRED SHILONGO in Windhoek, Namibia
WINDHOEK, (CAJ News) – INCUMBENT Hage Geingob and the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) have retained power but lost a decades-long majority following the most fiercely contested elections in Namibia.
According to results released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), Geingob garnered 56,3 percent of the total vote ahead of close rival and fellow party member, Panduleni Itula, an independent candidate who accumulated 29,4 percent.
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) presidential candidate, McHenry Venaani, came third with 5,3 percent but insisted the election was not fair.
Venaani indicated PDM would approach the courts for alleged anomalies and irregularities during the election.
More than 1,3 million Namibians registered to vote.
While Geingob and SWAPO retained power, they suffered a massive loss with a reduction in the National Assembly.
The ruling party now occupies 63 of the 96 parliamentary seats, while the official opposition, PDM, now has 16 seats — up from five in the 2014 election.
According to economist, the decrease in popularity for the ruling party can partly be attributed to the ailing economy that has been ravaged by Namibia’s worst-ever drought that led to a three-year recession.
“In addition, the recent fishing scandal would have taken the shine of the ruling party,” said Rand Merchant Bank’s Neville Mandimika.
Despite the disquiet by some opposition, regional observers endorsed the poll.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC)’s Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM), headed by Zimbabwe’s minister of defence, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, declared in its preliminary election the outcome as being free and fair.
“The political and security environment in the pre-election and election period was calm and peaceful, with no visible political and security risk that could adversely affect the conduct of the election. National Voter Registration for constituencies was completed and verified without incident,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri.
“These campaigns were by and large conducted peacefully. The police maintained a visible and discrete security presence at all campaign events that the mission observed and did not interfere with proceedings. Furthermore, events observed were largely in compliance with the laws of the country save for a few isolated incidents reported by stakeholders.”
The Commonwealth Observer Group said the exercise was carried out in a largely peaceful and orderly manner.
For the second time running, Namibia used the Electronic Voting Machines.
Geingob told ruling SWAPO supporters the victory would see him finish off his programme to improve the country’s economy, create jobs and ensure peace and stability prevailed in the Southern African nation of over 2,49 million people.
“I am just a proud Namibian that we could have free and fair elections, no fighting, no attacking each other, free movement was allowed,” Geingob said.
He is the third leader to rule Namibia after the founding veteran nationalist, Sam Nujoma, and Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Namibia is ranked 52 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries in the world, according to the global 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International.
Its economy is mainly driven by mining, manufacturing and agriculture while government services complemented much in creating jobs.
This has resulted in an unemployment rate decrease from 34 percent in 2018 to 33,40 percent in 2019.
– CAJ News