It’s Swapo! … as voters bury smaller parties
WINDHOEK – Namibia’s ruling Swapo party is assured of returning to power with a convincing victory, according to early results. Both Swapo and its presidential candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba were winning convincingly in many areas and at one time with more than 52 percent of the results in the party and its candidate were sitting on at least 75 percent of the total votes cast.
It is virtually certain that Namibians have given Swapo a fifth mandate to run the country.
Swapo has ruled this southern African country since 1990. Official results made known by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) at the time of going to press on Thursday placed Swapo in the lead by a wide margin, with the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) second, while the United Democratic Front and the Democratic Turnhale Alliance (DTA) were alternating between third and fourth place nationally.
Swapo retained the majority in its traditional strongholds in National Assembly and Presidential elections, and surprised friends and foes alike by making inroads into areas the party was considered less popular.
Swapo scooped the traditional stronghold Omusati region with an overwhelming majority, putting paid to speculation that the region – described by some as a political cooking pot – could sway either way.
Most of its good showing is attributed to its astounding performance in Okalongo constituency where it garnered 12 523 votes to second placed Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP)’s 208; and Onesi where the party had 5 832 votes with the RDP coming a distant second at 76 votes.
The other parties failed to get more than 50 votes combined.
Swapo produced similar showing in the Ohangwena, Oshana and Oshikoto regions where the party won by large margins.
The ruling party also had a remarkable run in the Kavango region warding off relative weak competition from other parties – most notably the newly formed All People’s Party (APP) and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) to win by clear margins.
Newcomers RDP gave a good account of itself and is now almost certainly the country’s official opposition.
The party attained its best results from the country’s southern regions of Hardap, and Karas where it finished tops in some constituencies.
In the Keetmanshoop constituency of the Karas region, the RDP forced the ruling party to a narrow victory in the national assembly election after attaining 1218 votes to Swapo’s 1298.
DTA was placed third with 497 votes.
In the Rehoboth Urban West constituency in the Hardap Region, the RDP topped the log with 886 to second placed Swapo’s 534.
The RDP also had a good run in the Khomas Region – under which the capital Windhoek falls, doing well in some constituencies within the region although it lost the region to the ruling party. In the Windhoek-West constituency for instance, the RDP managed a remarkable 6 361 votes, although the ruling Swapo party had the lion’s share of votes with 9 268 votes cast in its favour.
The Congress of Democrats (CoD), until the elections the official opposition, found the going tough in the polls and faces the danger of losing the four seats it currently has in the national assembly.
Many have attributed the party’s poor showing to new political entrants – most notably the RDP – which chewed into the party’s electorate.
The National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) and United Democratic Front (UDF) outperformed other small parties but generally failed to make a huge impression in areas outside their dominions.
All other parties failed to produce commendable results and now wait for next year’s Regional and Local Authority elections for a better showing.
The presidential and national assembly elections not only produced dismal results for many smaller political parties but could also mark the end of their political lives, most of which were formed in the last two years.
While new comers Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and the All People’s Party fared better in some constituencies, most new political parties failed to gain any formidable ground in the just-ended polls.
The Namibia Democratic Movement for Change (Namibia DMC), Republican Party (RP), National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Communist Party (CP) – which registered for the elections at the eleventh hour- all produced dismal results in both presidential and National Assembly tallies, making a parliament debut an elusive dream for most of them.
In some constituencies, the new entrants all failed to garner a single vote, and only manage to attain a handful of votes in areas where they were tipped to perform better.
A political analysts had in an interview with The Southern Times before the elections attributed the anticipated poor performances of new parties to a ‘lack of media profile’, and the absence of a national support base to ensure enough votes to take them to the legislative chambers.
The presidential results produced similar trends, with most of the smaller parties failing to attain impressive results.
The Monitor Action Group, which is mostly saved by Namibia’s Proportional Representation(PR) system employed for the National Assembly elections also found the going tough. The PR system allows the party with the highest votes among those that couldn’t gain a single seat in parliament to get residue votes from those making up parliamentary seats from bigger parties.
MAG’s lone parliament representative Jurrie Viljoen in an interview with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), placed the blame for the party’s poor showing on ’white communities’, whom he said had not come out to vote for the party.
He said there are many white Namibians with good ideas but were afraid to come to the fore out of fear of rejection. “We will, of course, be sorry to lose our seat in parliament, but we will still be a viable political party from outside the legislature,” he said.