The 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections in Namibia was like none other before.
With political parties and presidential candidates campaigning countrywide before the elections, it was evident that we were in for something that we have never experienced before as a country.
The country had its first-ever independent presidential candidate, as well as its first-ever female presidential candidate. Alongside other political parties’ candidates, they were going to battle it out for the country’s top job. Swapo leader and also the President of the country, Dr Hage Geingob held rallies in all 14 regions of the country. Although they were fully packed, some labelled them rented crowds because of the alleged transportation of Swapo members from different parts of the country to attend rallies countrywide.
The ruling party
also held mini rallies addressed by the founding President of Namibia Dr Sam Nujoma
The only other political party that came close to adopting such an aggressive campaign strategy was the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM). Led by their vibrant, industrious and eloquent leader Mr. McHenry Kanjonokere Venaani, the party held successful rallies in most parts of the country and in the process, deployed machinery that contributed to the success of their campaign. Something that opposition parties could not manage to accomplish during the past few election campaigns.
As it has been the case with previous elections, we saw some parties campaigning mainly in their traditional strongholds. These include parties like the United Democratic Front (UDF), the All People’s Party (APP), the new entrants Landless People’s Movement (LPM) as well as National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) led by Namibia’s first-ever female presidential candidate Madame Utjiua Muinjangue.
We did not see
much from other political parties except some vehicles painted in some party
The biggest impact came from the independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula. Dressed in a navy-blue suit, his approach was different. Alongside a youthful team, he decided to walk the streets of many towns in the country. An approach that made him connect with the downtrodden masses of our people. His message resonated with especially the youth and the jobless masses.
In him they saw hope for a better tomorrow. He walked in many towns, but it was not until he walked in Walvis Bay, Oranjemund, Oshakati and Windhoek that people really took notice of his impact. He managed to attract numbers that only Swapo use to boast about during past campaigns. When he walked for the last time before elections on the 25th from the central business district to Havana, he attracted a crowd that was never seen before in informal settlements. Projecting sheer power in the process. Many believed he had a realistic chance of unseating our current President. A mammoth task on its own given the popularity of the Head of State and that of the party whose candidature he stood for.
I woke up at around 05h00 on the day of the elections. A quick bath, coffee and off I went to the Bethold Himumuine polling station. There I engaged 61-year-old Mr Bethold Katunahange who arrived at the polling station at around 05h00. He emphasized the importance of choosing ones’ own leaders. Sentiments that were also echoed by 41-year-old Utjaera Kamuinjo. About 40 people were already queuing up to cast their votes at Bethold Himumuine polling station at the time.
Off I went to Theo Katjimune polling station. The queue there was much longer with about a 100 people already lined up. Patiently they were seated in line to cast their votes. Some arrived at around 04h00 I was told, mostly elders.
From the afternoon hours, I noticed young voters starting to line up. Their numbers kept on rising. There were still a few hundred waiting to cast their votes when polling stations closed at 21h00. They voted until around past 23h00 even when I went to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Central Results Center. We received reports that at some polling stations, people voted until the early hours of the morning of 28 November.
We waited at the ECN, with no official results coming through from the election management body. Meanwhile, social media went abuzz with results from polling stations in Windhoek making rounds on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These were legitimate date-stamped results from polling stations in Windhoek. At the time, the independent candidate had taken the lead.
One of my colleagues whispered to me, State House is on fire. I whispered back, for now yes. Official results from the ECN started coming in only late on the 28th. President Geingob took the lead but, results were still coming in slow.
We were worried, journalists and some political parties alike. We wanted answers from the ECN and these prompted the independent candidate to seek an impromptu meeting of political parties with the ECN. The ECN turned his request down.
To its credit, the ECN through its chairperson, Advocate Nontemba Tjipueja, explained the delay and after which the results finally started coming in after another long wait.
The independent candidate won Khomas and Erongo regions. President Geingob’s votes were spread across the entire country, overwhelming the independent candidate who was his main competitor. As we know now, he won 56.3 percent of the total votes. The independent candidate came second with a distant 29.4 percent, followed by Mr Venaani 5.3 percent and Mr Swaartbooi at 2.7 percent.
The ruling Swapo party lost its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. The party obtained only 63 from the 96 seats which is a 65.5 percent of the total National Assembly votes. They needed 64 seats to hold on to their two-thirds majority. Down 14 seats from the 77 they obtained during the 2014 elections, the ruling party will no longer be in a position to use their two thirds majority to institute constitutional changes. The biggest winner was the PDM which won 16 seats, up from the five they won during the 2014 elections.