Election Watch

Promoting democracy in Namibia

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Fear on the march

Nearly two thirds of Namibians fear becoming a victim of political intimidation or violence during an election campaign, according to the Afrobarometer opinion survey. Some 10 percent were very fearful that they would be on the receiving end of intimidation or violence, while 55 percent were ‘somewhat’ or a ‘little bit’ concerned about the issue.
Considering that Namibia is usually considered a stable and peaceful country, the figures are worryingly high. People’s responses may have been influenced by the fact that the survey took place in November 2008 – a period when there were several reports of violence and intimidation between party supporters. Since February this year, the number of such incidents has noticeably declined, apparently in response to President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s calls for political tolerance.
However, it is clear that Namibia’s democracy still faces major challenges, particularly concerning the establishment of a culture of political tolerance. Free and fair elections cannot take place if there is widespread fear among the electorate about their right to express their political views.
The Afrobarometer survey provided further evidence that a significant portion of the population do not have full confidence in their constitutional right to express themselves freely. Just over a third of respondents said it was likely that people would be punished by government officials if they made complaints about poor quality service or the misuse of funds. In addition, 46 percent said they often or always had to be careful about what they say about politics.
The Afrobarometer is a public opinion survey of 1,200 Namibians, with a margin of error of three percent.

© 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.