29 Nov 2010 - Story by Helvy Shaanika
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OSHIKANGO ' Most of the constituencies in the Ohangwena Region experienced a very low turnout during the Regional and Local Authority Elections over the weekend.
At some polling stations, votes cast could barely fill a ballot box and election officials appeared relaxed throughout the process.
During a visit by this reporter to a number of polling stations, most of the officials seemed to have nothing to do, while some opted to hang around outside classrooms and tents where voting was taking place. Voters were coming in groups of two to three people, or one person at a time.
The 'school holidays', heavy rains that took place over the weekend and the absence of tender ballots, were associated with the low turnout here.
With the low turnout seeming to be a countrywide phenomenon, several election officials said the 'school holidays' could have been the reason behind the absence of a number of born-frees at election points.
'Grade 10s and 12s have already written their examinations, thus most of the youth are likely to have gone away for the holidays. I am not saying that this is completely the reason behind the low turnout but I suspect that could be one of the major contributors,' said Lasarus Shikololo, a returning officer for Epembe Constituency.
Shikololo added that unlike the National Assembly and Presidential Elections that had tendered ballots, the youth that have migrated to different regions lost out on the chance to cast their votes.
Shikololo also cited heavy rains in his constituency on Friday afternoon as another reason why a number of people possibly did not vote.
'The most affected were the people that were supposed to cast their votes at mobile polling stations. It rained for some hours, and by the time it stopped, the mobile polling stations had moved from one point to the next point as the time spent at election points by these stations is limited, unlike the fixed ones,' he explained.
Returning Officer of Endola Constituency Kertu Shipoke said the turnout was overwhelming on Friday and Saturday morning. The majority of voters were mainly elderly people.
'We had two queues ' one for the elderly and one for the youth at Endola and Onekwaya polling stations, but the queues for the youth were very short compared to the elders' queue,' said Shipoke.
She added that apart from the youth that have migrated to other constituencies for holidays, there are also born-frees that are schooling at constituencies that are far from the constituencies of their origin. Shipoke said rain did not affect the turnout in her constituency.
'Some people just took their umbrellas and came to cast their votes,' she said.
At Omulonga, the Returning Officer for that constituency, Fabianus Shaululu, said a few people missed out on the elections because of migration from other constituencies.
'Some people are registered voters for constituencies far from Omulonga. One could see there was no way they could go to the constituencies where they have registered to vote as the do not have resources to do so,' said Shaululu.