WINDHOEK – Egoistic Namibian opposition parties are set to pay another heavy price for their fragmentation going into last Friday’s election, with preliminary results showing the ruling party Swapo is set to tighten its grip on power.
Last night at 21h30 the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) confirmed that the national results would only be announced today.
By yesterday evening, Swapo and its presidential candidate Dr Hage Geingob were well in the lead with more than 75 percent of the vote, while the DTA looked to become the official opposition with 6.3 percent of the vote.
The current official opposition, RDP, was trailing in third position with 3.8 percent at the time of going to print, with the Kavango East Region the only one with pending results.
Geingob, on the other hand was well on his way to making history by having canvassed about 87 percent of the total presidential vote – a feat never attained by any presidential candidate in Namibia before.
The ‘Hage effect’ seemed to have also gripped the country from north to south and east to west, as both Geingob and Swapo made strides in areas dubbed the opposition stronghold.
The ruling party was so dominant that by yesterday afternoon it had only lost Rehoboth Urban West constituency to the United People’s Movement (UPM), Opuwo Rural to DTA and Aminuis to Nudo.
The former liberation movement has also increased its stakes in opposition strongholds such as Daures constituency, a United Democratic Front (UDF) stronghold, where Swapo increased its votes to 37 percent, up from 24 percent recorded in 2004.
UDF’s votes in Daures were slashed from 39 percent in 2009 to 31 percent this time around.
“There’s no real surprise in our results,” Apius Auchab, the UDF president said yesterday.
“Our trend of voting is the same,” Auchab, who was ushered into the UDF presidency after the recent retirement of Justus Garoeb, told New Era.
DTA’s relentless campaign activities – such as its president McHenry Venaani’s weekend-long stay in Ombili location of Katutura, as well as travelling on a municipal bus with mostly domestic workers – seem to have counted in the party’s favour.
But for RDP, this would probably be a contest to forget. As of 21h45 last night, the official opposition was hanging on its status by fingernails – having lost 7.5 percent of the votes it had attained in 2009.
In fourth position last night were UDF, with 2.64 percent of the total vote, followed by All People’s Party in fifth position with 2.48 percent of the vote.
Eleven smaller parties, including former official opposition Congress of Democrats (CoD), shared eight percent of the vote.
As widely anticipated, it was an easy day at the office for Geingob, the comeback kid whose career in politics had seemed to have hit a brick wall in the early 2000s, but bounced back so strongly that no one – in or outside – his party could stop his inevitable march to State House.
And for Swapo – with all its internal problems that led to the recent suspension of three of its youth leaders – this was another formality of complying with the constitutional obligation of having elections after every five years rather than anything else.
In truth, the opposition were cut to their legitimate size – with none of them showing any real intent of wresting power from Swapo whose liberation struggle prowess remains the strongest glue that attaches the majority of Namibians to its confines.
For Geingob, his electoral exploits represents one of Namibia’s political comebacks of all time.
Having lost his prime minister’s position in 2002, his fate seemed sealed. He had no position in formal government structures, except the backbencher’s seat he later occupied in parliament after a short stint in the USA.
But after accepting a trade and industry ministerial offer from incumbent President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2008, Geingob has since never looked back.
He showed little mercy at the 2012 Swapo congress where the majority of congregants showed their faith in him to become the ruling party’s presidential candidate in this election.
Swapo have marketed their man for two full years since the decisive congress victory in 2012. Two days after congress, Geingob was parachuted back into the prime minister’s position, in what analysts said was a deliberate move by Pohamba to prepare Geingob for the enormous responsibility of taking over the country’s reins.
Gradually, Pohamba has allowed Geingob in recent months to take the lead in some responsibilities that would usually be reserved for the first citizen’s attention only – including representing the country at some key international platforms.
Arithmetically, Geingob does not hail from a majority tribe but he has been embraced by Namibians from all walks of life, such that his 87 percent votes last night set a new Namibian record.
Voters have anointed Geingob as the man to deliver on their dreams and aspirations. UDF was among the parties who openly urged their supporters to vote for Geingob in the presidential election.
“We believe Geingob is the most competent candidate available and we asked our suppoters to rally behind him in this election,” UDF president Auchab said yesterday.
Geingob’s level of education, diplomacy and understanding of international affairs are but some of the qualities that eased his chances at the ballot booth.
By Toivo Ndjebela