Massive voter turnout at the polls

By Rosalia David and Pauline Ndalikokule

THE Presidential and National Assembly elections yesterday were characterised by massive voter enthusiasm and what appeared to be a high turn-out in all parts of the country, suggesting active public participation in the electoral process and dispelling fears that the polls would be marred by voter apathy.

The 2019 election took place against the backdrop of a tightly contested battle for the Presidency between incumbent President Hage Geingob and independent presidential hopeful Dr Panduleni Itula, with newcomer Bernadus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement and Popular Democratic Movement McHenry Venaani, among others, also in the running for the top job.

When Confidente reporters began coverage of the polls in the early hours of Wednesday, long queues were visible in most parts of the country visited, particularly at polling stations in Windhoek, Ongwediva and Oshakati. Elsewhere at Swakopmund, voters could be seen lining up before dawn to cast their ballots.

A 27-year-old female voter at Ombili Community Centre said she woke up at around 03h00 and rushed to the polling station to be sure that she can cast her vote for the very first time.

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“I decided to wake up early because I wanted to be first in the queue. It is my first time that I’m voting, I wanted to make sure my vote counts this time around,” she said.

Despite the promise of rain the night before, it was a sunny Wednesday and members of the public showed up in large numbers to choose their candidates for Parliament and the Presidency.

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Selma Simon from Goreangab informal settlement was enthusiastic about voting and more than ready to wait her turn.

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She said she wouldn’t go home until she had cast her vote, “Even if it means burning from the sun and staying here until the last hour. I will stay, because I know my vote can make a difference.”

Meanwhile, there was some consternation and discontent at Pionierspark Baines polling station, where impatient voters grew angry at the pace of progress and accused the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s team of being “too slow”.

“We came here a long time ago and until now we haven’t voted.

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The EVMs keep going off and we have to wait. We didn’t want these machines at all, but they didn’t listen,” some in the queue said.

Voter numbers were bolstered by the recent registration drive.

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With the excitement and curiosity that preceded the Presidential and National Assembly polls yesterday, many unregistered voters were determined to get on the register.

A statement issued by the ECN this week shows that during supplementary voter registration over a three-week period from 8 to 27 July, a total of 271 193 voters registered. The national electoral register now includes 1 358 468 eligible voters.