Swapo Trounces RDP in By-Election

Swapo Party candidate Johannes Hakanyome won 86 percent or 5 827 of the votes cast in the Ohangwena Constituency by-election, trouncing his rival who came a distant second with only 945 votes.

Hakanyome’s 5 827 votes of the 6 772 votes cast was a major victory against Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) candidate Vilho Shimooshili, who only drew the 945 votes, which represents less than 14 percent of the total votes cast.

To analysts, the by-election served as a critical indicator for what the outcome of the Swapo-RDP rivalry will look like in the national elections in November.

For years, Ohangwena has been perceived to be the base of the RDP, but Swapo’s deep-rooted presence in the region, spanning over decades, has thus far proven difficult to undo.

Shimooshili’s emphatic defeat, in an election with a shockingly low turnout, is testimony to how Swapo remains a party of choice among many Namibians residing in the area.

The RDP, whose officials have already charged that the by-election was not held in a transparent manner, will now take stock of its loss in the hope of improving numbers in future elections.

The results from 33 polling stations were presented by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) returning officer for Ohangwena Constituency, Lisias Haiduwa, during the early hours of yesterday. On Tuesday morning, residents of Ohangwena Constituency took to the polls to elect the incumbent for the councillor’s position, following the passing away of councillor Maria Kombwana in May this year. The early availability of the results was attributed to the historic usage of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) – used for the first time in Namibia and Africa at large.

Representatives from Bharat Electronics, an Indian based company that supplied the EVMs to Namibia, were also present during the process, to ensure the exercise was flawless and to attend to any emergencies that may have arisen.

Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Director of Elections, Prof. Paul John Isaak, described the first use and test of the EVMs as highly successful.

“This was the first test and it was very successful. It has given us confidence to carry on,” said Isaak.

Isaak said the EVMs were embraced by the voters, including senior citizens who were excited about their first experience with the machines.

“If there were complaints, they were about other issues and not about the EVMs. There were no issues related to the EVMs, but of course there are some lessons to be learnt. They include how to speed up the process of coming from one point to another at the polling stations,” said Isaak.

ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja who was equally excited about the EVMs said the only improvements that need to be done in future concern voter card verification and transporting of voting materials from polling stations to the main centres, as it took a little longer than expected. “I am encouraging the whole country to embrace the EVMs – if the elderly can do it then so can young people embrace them too,” said Tjipueja.

RDP’s observer Libolly Haufiku said the overall process had no problems, and there were no hiccups at the ground level.

Source : New Era