Election Watch

Promoting democracy in Namibia

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Live Blog-27-11-2015 06:16

6h30 Wednesday Dec 2: We are still awaiting the final local authority results from the ECN. In the meantime here are the turnout figures we have calculated for the regional council elections:
- Total turnout for the 95 contesting constituencies in the regional election was 36.5%
- The region with lowest turnout: Khomas with 23.2%
- The region with highest turnout: Kunene with 56.4%
- The constituency with lowest turnout: Moses //Garoeb (Khomas) with 15.2%
- The constituency with highest turnout: Linyanti (Zambezi) with 70.5%
- The turnout level is slightly lower than the 38% of registered voters who turned out to vote in the Regional Councils election in 2010.
(IPPR calculations based on final results from the ECN)

11h00 Monday Nov 30: The 2015 Regional Council election is a major backslide for gender equity in Namibia, both in terms of women's participation as candidates in the election, and in terms of the final outcome. Only 16% of the 121 regional councillors for the next five years are women (i.e. 20 out of 121). This is a far cry from the 50% target in Namibia's National Gender Policy, the National Gender Plan of Action, the SADC Gender Protocol, and several other national policies or regional/international instruments which Namibia has ratified.
Regional councils are tasked with the planning and development of their regions. And development requires the active voice of women in the decision making process.
Two regional councils - Omaheke and Zambezi - have no female councillors. Seven regional councils each have only one woman on their councils. These are Hardap, //Karas, Kavango East, Kavango West, Kunene, Ohangwena and Omusati. Erongo, Oshana and Oshikoto regional councils each have two women on their councils.
Khomas and Otjozondjupa are the most representative for women, with women occupying 4 of the 10 constituency seats in Khomas Region, and 3 of the 7 seats in Otjozondjupa.
Namibia made major strides in gender participation in the National Assembly election last year, with women making up 42% of MPs in the Assembly. This was thanks mainly to Swapo's implementation of a 50/50 zebra party list. At the Local Authority level, women's representation also scores well, due to quotas in place since the 1997 Local Authorities Amendment Act. There is an opportunity for Namibia to redeem itself in the National Council though (to which each regional council nominates 3 councillors). Perhaps, for starters, councils (with women on them) could ensure that - at the very minimum - one of the 3 councillors sent to the National Council is a female councillor.

17h30 Sunday Nov 29. ECN Chairperson has announced final results for Regional Council election. All councils are under the control of Swapo, with nine seats countrywide going to the opposition as compared to 112 for Swapo. Again, the verification of results appeared to slow down the process of announcing final results. The ECN is not under any legal obligation to verify or announce local authority results at its headquarters in Windhoek. These were announced by returning officers in the local authority areas themselves. However, we expect the ECN to at least release confirmed results today or tomorrow. As in 2014, the ECN has been sorely lacking when it comes to the timeous announcing and confirming of results. The Commission's online presence has been dismal - with no real time announcement of results on its website and only sporadic updating of its social media pages. Instead, it was the national broadcaster that led the way with the announcement of preliminary and final results - predominantly by its NBC News @ 8 Facebook page.

We won't know conclusive turnout figures until some time on Sunday, but Windhoek West is a worrying portent of the trend in many urban areas. George Trepper of Swapo won Windhoek West with 3 181 votes. DTA's Carolina Panizza was on 1 172 votes while RDP's Maureen Dunn claimed 521 votes. Some 4 874 people cast their votes out of 27 584 registered voters - a turnout of 18%. The turnout figure is very low but an improvement on the 13% who voted in the Windhoek West by-election last year which first elected Trepper.

The day has got slightly better for the opposition as it has gone on. It now looks like Swapo will have 112 regional council seats, Nudo 4, DTA 2, UDF 1, Independent 1, and UPM 1. But this remains an overwhelming victory for Swapo, even more so at the local authority level. According to the Electoral Act, the final regional council results are announced by the ECN chairperson in Windhoek but the local authority results are only announced at the local level by the returning officer. This means that no one at the ECN results centre is confirming the LA results. Most LA results so far have been confirmed by the NBC or other media.

The DTA has held off the Swapo challenge in Kunene - winning the Epupa and Opuwo Rural constituencies and coming within a whisker (35 votes) of taking the Opuwo Urban constituency. The region is still heading to Swapo however as the UDF lost its Kunene seats - at Sesfontein, Kamanjab and Khorixas - to Swapo. Since 1992 the combination of UDF and DTA controlled constituencies has kept Swapo at bay.

On a generally dismal day of results for the RDP, the party lost its only Regional Council seat - Windhoek East - to Swapo. Interestingly, the combined DTA and RDP vote was higher than Swapo's.
Ruusa Namuhuja (Swapo) 1,795
Jens Schneider (RDP) 1,169
Reggie Diergaardt (DTA) 743

Of all the opposition parties, Nudo has the most to cheer about: The party retained its constituencies in Omaheke (Aminius and Otjinene) and in Otjozondjupa (Okakarara) and gained a surprise victory in Omatako constituency over Swapo. It also won control of Okakarara local authority and retained its control of Otjinene local authority.

The expected domination by Swapo has come to pass - with only a few areas where the opposition can take some positives. Major trends so far:
-Turnout is low - although it is hard to be conclusive with only 17 official regional council results announced - some urban areas have turnouts as low as 25% while the trend in rural areas is somewhat higher - often over 40%.
-Swapo will take control of Kunene region mainly because the UDF has lost the Kamanjab, Sesfontein and Khorixas constituencies. Swapo has won the Opuwo Urban constituency by a small margin.
-The UDF did better in Erongo where the party took Daures from Swapo. At the moment it looks like this election will see the UDF reduced from three regional council seats to only one countrywide.
-An independent candidate - Katjanaa Kaurivi - won the Otjombinde constituency in the Omaheke region from Swapo. Kaurivi was has recently left the ruling party.
-Deputy Minister Theo Diergaardt has lost his regional council seat in Rehoboth Urban West - where the UPM has won the seat.
-Nudo's support levels are holding up quite well in the west of the country where it has taken control of Okakarara local authority and has maintained its control of Otjinene local authority.

The ECN has previously said it will take two to three hours to announce and post results at polling stations. But it will take longer for constituency and local authority results to be collated and then sent to the Chief Electoral Officer in WIndhoek. Following further checks the final announcements of results will be made by the ECN Chairperson at the ECN Results Centre. This is likely to be during tomorrow (Saturday) - with the hope that all results will be confirmed sometime late on Saturday.

As polls close at 21h00, it's time to start thinking about the results. Most are predictable. Swapo will win more than 90 percent of regional council seats and most local authorities. But there are some variables where closer contests are expected:
-Can Swapo take control of the Kunene region - the only region that has remained out of its grasp since the first regional council election in 1992? Background: the addition of a new constituency (Opuwo was split into Opuwo Urban and Opuwo Rural) may play a crucial role. The UDF needs to hold on to its support in Kamanjab and Khorixas, while the DTA needs to hold Epupa and win at least one of the Opuwo constituencies if the Swapo challenge is to be held at bay. Looking at the 2014 election results, when Swapo received most votes in all Kunene constituencies except Opuwo Rural, the opposition will struggle to keep control of Kunene.
-How will Nudo perform in the east of the country. They currently control the Otjinene local authority and have three regional council seats - Aminius, Otjinene and Okakarara. They could expand their control to constituencies like Epukiro while control of Okakarara local authority may be in their sights.
-Will UDF support hold up in the west. The party currently has regional councillors in Kamanjab, Khorixas, and Sesfontein and it believes it can regain Daures from Swapo. But the retirement of Chief Justus Garoeb as party leader and the 'Geingob effect' could undermine the party's support levels.
-Will the RDP hold on to its one regional council seat in Windhoek East - the odds are against it after a series of high profile defections.
-Will any of the seven independent residents associations have an impact on the local authority elections? Such groups once controlled Rehoboth and Otavi but that was more than a decade ago. Can the non-party alternatives mount any kind of resurgence at this election.
-Will reports of poor governance at some local authorities and regional councils have any impact? Local authorities like Omaruru, Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop have made headlines for the wrong reasons over the past few years.
- Turnout? Last time it was woefully low - 33% in the LA election and 38% in the RC election. In theory, the increased electoral mobilisation since 2014 (when a new voters register was established) and the holding of a public holiday today should have boosted turnout. In practice, many Namibians may have gone into holiday mode and forgotten their civic duties.

With 75 minutes to the close of polls at 21h00, the most striking impression of this election is the lack voters. The long queues (and delays) of the 2014 national elections have not been repeated - possibly due to greater efficiency from ECN officials but also no doubt because of the low volume of voters. The ECN has reported a number of isolated incidents: an Okakakara mobile team got lost; a shot was fired at Cimbebasia (Windhoek East) polling station (yesterday); an EVM stolen in Kavango (east or west?) but it was only for demonstration purposes; and 99 percent of polling stations opened on time. A couple were also arrested at Khorixas for insulting and arguing with officials and police in the polling station. Generally, this has been a low-key election. The turnouts five years ago were 33% (local authority) and 38% (regional council). Whether these elections improve on these rather woeful levels will become clear during Saturday.

A regular occurrence noticed at Windhoek polling stations: ECN officials shouting instructions to voters in booths about how to use EVMs. Seems that many voters either forgot how to use EVMs since last year or are using them for the first time. Consistent and ongoing voter education is required

Indications of a low turnout, as widely expected. Many polling stations in Windhoek reported to be empty or with small queues. Similar reports from various regions. Not clear if this will be the trend for the rest of the day or whether more people will come out after 17h00 when it is cooler.

Most polling stations were reported to have opened on time or near to the 07h00 start. Isolated reports of VVDs not working but in general queues are shorter and moving faster than last year. Many old people were among the first to queue up, from as early as 03h00, showing their dedication to democracy and setting an example to the youth!

Remember to share your experiences of voting (info@ippr.org.na). We particularly want to know if the process went smoothly or if delays and long queues are being experienced as last year? ECN has said that Voter Verification Devices (VVDs) were a major cause of last year's delays and long queues - particularly operator errors i.e. electoral officials were not sufficiently trained to use the VVDs. As a result, the ECN has undertaken extra training of officials to avoid the same situation occurring again. But the proof will be in the experience of voters today - will the voting process go smoothly? Let us know your experiences. Remember, if all goes well, the ECN has said that it should take three-and-a-half minutes to pass through the polling station.

Namibia's local and regional elections take place today, Friday November 27th. Polling stations are open from 07h00 to 21h00.
Factors to watch out for:

-Will the voter verification devices work effectively (or will the ECN staff have been trained properly to use them?). Background: failure to operate the VVDs properly was the main reason for the delays and long queues in the national elections of 2014.
-Can Swapo take control of the Kunene region - the only region that has remained out of its grasp since the first regional council election in 1992? Background: the addition of a new constituency (Opuwo was split into Opuwo Urban and Opuwo Rural) may play a crucial role. The UDF needs to hold on to its support in Kamanjab and Khorixas, while the DTA needs to hold Epupa and win at least one of the Opuwo constituencies if the Swapo challenge is to be held at bay. Looking at the 2014 election results, when Swapo received most votes in all Kunene constituencies except Opuwo Rural, the opposition will struggle to keep control of Kunene.
-How will Nudo perform in the east of the country. They currently control the Otjinene local authority and have three regional council seats - Aminius, Otjinene and Okakarara. They could expand their control to constituencies like Epukiro while control of Okakarara local authority may be in their sights.
-Will UDF support hold up in the west. The party currently has regional councillors in Kamanjab, Khorixas, and Sesfontein and believe it can regain Daures from Swapo. But the retirement of Chief Justus Garoeb as party leader and the 'Geingob effect' could undermine the party's support levels.
-Will any of the seven independent residents associations have an impact on the local authority elections? Such groups once controlled Rehoboth and Otavi but that was more than a decade ago. Can the non-party alternatives mount any kind of resurgence at this election.
-Will reports of poor governance at some local authorities and regional councils have any impact? Local authorities like Omaruru, Rehoboth and Keetmanshoop have made headlines for the wrong reasons over the past few years.
- Turnout? Last time it was woefully low - 33% in the LA election and 38% in the RC election. In theory the increased electoral mobilisation since 2014 when a new voters register was established and the holding of a public holiday today should boost turnout. Or will Namibians go into holiday mode, take the long weekend and forget their civic duties?

Watch out for more news and commentary during the day. Also check our Facebook page and Twitter account.

The elections in numbers:

14 regions
121 constituencies
26 uncontested constituencies
95 contested constituencies
8 independent candidates
14 (appointed) regional governors
1 267 335 people registered for the regional elections

57 local authorities
5 uncontested local authorities
52 contested local authorities
7 independent associations
418,544 people registered for the local elections

© 2017 Election Watch

Election Watch is a project of the Institute for Public Policy Research in Windhoek, Namibia. Election Watch is funded by the European Union and the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives.