It seems that travelling to be with loved ones, going shopping, or simply taking some time off, proved to be a more attractive option than going to vote, as on Friday a minority of registered voters turned up at polling stations here to vote in the regional council and local authority elections.
Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) //Karas regional coordinator Sixtus Isaacks says he is very disappointed in the turnout of voters in the region, as a large number was expected to participate in the election held on Friday, but less than 30 percent of registered voters cast their votes in the region.
He explained that of the about 48 800 registered voters in the region only 13 872 voters voted and this is extremely disappointing, taking into account that the day was declared a public holiday so that everyone could get a chance to vote.
He is of the opinion that people preferred to use the long weekend to spend time with their families and engage in other activities, instead of voting. Isaacks believes the fact that the election took place at the end of the month may also have contributed to low voter turnout.
“It was a long weekend, so it was maybe time for them to spend time with their families instead of voting,” said a concerned Isaacks in a telephonic interview on Monday. He further said the low voter turnout was especially notable amongst the youth, as from his observations only the elderly could be seen in queues. He, however, described the process as fair and free with no major hiccups and applauded the political maturity of the competing parties, saying there was no violence reported and the conduct of all parties was satisfactory.
DTA acting secretary general Elma Dienda also echoed Isaacks’s sentiments on the voter turnout, saying people didn’t turn out to vote, because there was confusion over whether the day was a holiday or not. Moreover, when it is a holiday or long weekend people tend to go on vacation.
Swapo //Karas regional coordinator Matheus Mumbala expressed the same concern, saying the turnout was disappointing. He said his party and the country at large should do more to address the issue. “The people don’t understand the importance of these elections,” he said, referring to the regional council and local authority polls, which he says centre on real bread and butter issues.
He also noted that there is a disturbing trend amongst the youth that they don’t bother to go and vote. “When I moved around there were only old people in the queues,” he also said.
The country at large experienced a relatively low voter turnout, with the Kunene Region delivering the highest turnout at 52,6 percent, according to preliminary results.