Seafarers at LUderitz go to the polls

LUDERITZ; An estimated 40 per cent of seagoing personnel voted at the two polling stations at LUderitz on Friday.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) was expecting around 1 020 voters based on lists provided by companies operating at sea at the bay town. By 16h00, only around 400 seamen had cast their votes, with those visiting the venue down to an absolute trickle.

Both polling stations are located at the LUderitz Youth Art and Culture Centre, more popularly known as the German Hostel Hall.

The ECN’s !Nami#NUs constituency returning officer Fritz Spiegel said the day was far from over.

“People could still be making their way to the polling station or they may have decided to vote on 28 November, considering it has been declared a public holiday,” Spiegel explained to Nampa.

Voting kicked off after 07h00 once the two party agents present had inspected and verified the voting lists, tools and the election processes. The party agents are Erkki Andreas from the Swapo-Party and Alejandro van den Heever of the DTA of Namibia.

Initially, a number of potential voters whose names did not appear on the company lists were turned away. They were sent to the nearby Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA) or back to their companies to collect crew lists as proof that they worked at sea. The men argued that there was no previous communication regarding the crew lists and some said they were casual or stand-by personnel, thus their names were omitted.

Spiegel said they could not work on probabilities.

“We have contacted all the registered companies and we operate within a legal framework. Today’s election was for seamen only, and if they cannot vote today, they can still vote on 28 November,” he said.

According to Swapo’s Andreas, many of the men sent away returned later throughout the day after obtaining crew lists from their companies. Some phoned the company bosses who made their way to the polling stations with the lists.

By 12h00, the election queue was empty, with only a few individuals entering during the remainder of the day.

One voter, Franky Freeman said the process was very fast and effective.

“It was my second time ever to vote, and I am very excited. I feel great to have voted; it counts, and at the end of the day my vote gives me power. I can speak up, I’ve done my part. Now they must do theirs and fulfil the promises they made,” Freeman said.

The results will be out after 21h00 on Friday night. These will be added to the total results obtained after the Presidential and National Elections on 28 November when the rest of Namibia votes.