Swapo Retains Windhoek West

SWAPO’s candidate Georg Trepper ensured that the ruling party retained the Windhoek West constituency seat despite a low voter turnout of approximately 3 000 or 12,5% on Friday.

The by-election saw RDP candidate Maureen Dunn managing a mere 315 votes against Trepper’s 2 685.

Other parties – the DTA and Republican Party – that scraped through with 205 and 140 votes respectively, also have a slim chance of unseating Swapo. CoD managed just 53 votes.

Immanuel Benestes Auchamub stood for DTA Sophia Panizza ran for the RP while Joseph Amadhila represented the CoD.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia said about 27 000 people registered for the by-election and that 3 398 turned up to vote for the replacement of the late Swapo councillor Shikwetepo Haindongo, who died in August.

Trepper scored 79% of the votes cast. The RDP’s Dunn scored 9% of the votes. Past election results indicate that Swapo’s support has been growing in Windhoek West, while opposition parties’ support has been receding.

In the previous regional council election in 2010, in which 5 205 valid votes were cast, the late Haindongo won with 59% of the votes. An RDP candidate, who was his closest challenger, received 35,5% of the votes in that election.

In the 2009 National Assembly election, 49% of the 18 746 valid votes cast in Windhoek West were marked for Swapo. The RDP received 33,6% of the votes cast in that election.

The ECN said it had no clue why the voter turnout was so low, but some observers blamed it on poor logistics.

Renate Frans, a Swapo election observer who was stationed at the Wernhil Park polling station, said some polling stations were located at relatively obscure venues.

The tent for the Wernhil polling station was close to the railway station and hardly visible, while some voters said they thought it was in the mall.

“We were told it was at Wernhil. I assumed it was inside the mall,” said one angry voter.

An RDP election observer, Telwin !Owoseb, said the process was slow, and that maybe voters were too careful with the electronic devices.

Some ECN officials mistakenly applied ink on voters left thumbs, with at least 33 people registered at the Windhoek Correctional Facility affected.

The left thumbs are supposed to be used in the upcoming Presidential and National Assembly Elections. Since the ink is expected to last for several weeks, this could result in the disqualification of the affected voters on 28 November.

The officers involved said they acted on ECN orders but the electoral body denied giving such orders.

“All officers were informed that they should mark voters on the right hand for the by-elections since the left thumb would be reserved for the national elections,” said ECN spokesperson Vikitoria Hango.

Hango confirmed that there were two known cases of officers who did not follow this directive.

Presiding officer Collin Jantjies called for calm, saying officers would immediately be able to pick it up if a voter had voted twice and that the mark on the thumb was not the only way to tell. “We have asked our staff to record the number on the voters’ registration cards. This will enable us to detect if a voter has already voted somewhere else,” he said.

Although it was feared that the use of the electronic voting machines would intimidate voters, those who spoke to The Namibian, such as Johannes Sylvanus, said the process was “quick and easy”. Several voters had to be accompanied by polling officers inside the booths when they found the machines too ‘complicated’.

Hango said officers were allowed to accompany voters into the booths to demonstrate the process.

Source : The Namibian