Namibia Elections

November 27, 2009

While Namibia holds the country’s fourth general and presidential elections today, the rest of the world will be waiting to see who voters show up to cast their ballots for.

The election is predicted to bring in over one million voters to over 3,200 polling stations around the country, most of which will be moving around to reach the remote areas of the region.

The Namibian wrote that in a report on the election, Standard Bank’s economist Jan Duvenhage said, “Internationally, Namibia is already classified as a “flawed democracy… any additional slippage in the global democracy stakes will be a cause for concern.”

 


Currently Namibia is ranked 64th out of 167 countries on the latest Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), receiving an overall score of 6.48 out of a possible ten points.

Rally for Democracy and Progress is expected to pose the main opposition to South West African People’s Organization, the current ruling party in Namibia is expected to.  Something had has not gone unnoticed by Swapo who has filed a $13 million defamation lawsuit the country’s opposition party.

According to Bloomberg.com, Swapo “… alleged that RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya had damaged its reputation by claiming the party rigged previous elections when he addressed a rally in the northern town of Okongo this month.”

Nonetheless, a violent election is not expected. In IPS Graham Hopwood, political analyst and director of the Institute for Public Policy Research said, “Namibian elections are mostly peaceful, we don’t foresee surprises.” But even without violence, the BBC reports the National Society for Human Rights does expect attempts at poll rigging.  They report the NSHR as stating, “.. the voters’ roll includes constituencies that have been listed twice, voters who have been listed twice and under-age people – a discrepancy of about 180,000 voters.” The NSHR are now being allowed to observe the presidential and parliamentary ballots at the numerous polling stations by the Namibian courts.

And finally, gender activists are afraid the election will lower the current female representation in the government from 30.8 percent to roughly 25 percent, a drop that will impede the region’s goal of 50 percent female representatives in politics by 2015.

“In their manifestos parties enshrine equal opportunities for men and women, but when the candidate list comes out, it’s dominated by men,” says Sarry Xoagus-Eises, country organizer for non-governmental organization that promotes gender equality, to IPS.

Results of the election are expected to be posted Sunday morning outside polling stations.

NAMIBIA GENERAL ELECTIONS STATS:
Presidential and parliamentary ballots
12 presidential candidates
14 parties
72 seats in parliament
1.1m registered voters
Voting on Friday and Saturday
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President Robert Mugabe first rose to power  in the newly formed country of Zimbabwe in 1980 after helping the country gain independence from Britain.  Seven years later, he became president, a title he has since held.

Mugabe was frequently revered as a great leader when he first took office by the international community, a leader with a clear view of what he wanted for Zimbabwe.  In a 1974 interview a journalist questions the president on his hopes for Zimbabe.  He asked Mugabe if he ever saw free elections for the country, Mugabe replied,

“Yes, of course. Why not? We are fighting for democracy.  We would like to see a democratic state established in Zimbabwe. And this means a state based on the majority of the people.”



Fast forward more than 30 years to the 2008 presidential elections and the news reports tell a different story.

“ Overnight, they had been dragged from their homes and beaten by Mugabe supporters….



President Mugabe went on to lose the 2008 March presidential election to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change Party.  And a few months later, he ordered a run-off after refusing to step down from power.  Mugabe won, but amid accusations of election tampering.

Claims he denies in an interview with Al Jazeera English.

“No. If rigging the elections means winning the elections through majority voting, then, then let it be. That’s precisely, we will be winning, we will be winning all the time.”



Mugabe has since agreed to a unity government, appointing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai Prime Minister. The Zimbabwe government is now a joint coalition with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Party.  A relationship that seems anything but agreeable.

In a radio interview with UK’s The Guardian last August, Tsvangirai stated he and Mugabe were working together affaby.

“Journalist: You, you believe he does have capacity to change? Or has changed already?

MT: I don’t see any attitude of perpetuating hate or division, polarization of the country

Journalist: It must be hard for you sometimes, you must admit, to swallow what’s been going on in the past and sit down with someone being held responsible for a lot of violence against you personally and your supporters?

MT: what is reconciliation without that? Reconciliation is a major for tolerance across this very serious political divide that exists in this country and how we can stand up as leaders and call nationally unity when between us we don’t like each other?”


But, less than a month after the interview was published, Tsvangirai shared a rather different message at a rally for the MDC party as Africa Times News reported, stating Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party:

“…Continues to violate the law, persecute our members of parliament, spread the language of hate, invades our productive farms…ignores our international treaties.”


Africa Times News

Most recently, Tsvangirai has ordered all MDC ministers to stop working from government offices, an order  he too is following until all the political issues are resolved.

Other world leaders seem to agree with Tsvangirai’s hesitation to work with the president.

In 2002 sanctions were applied against President Mugabe when suspicion of election tampering surfaced along with human rights violations.

Those sanctions are still in place in 2009 and European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid says they will most likely stay.

“…the EU would not resume development aid until more was done to implement the nation’s power-sharing agreement and to restore human rights.”


Alternatively, socio-economic analyst Udo Froese told The Zimbabwe Times:

“[The international West] wanted from the onset a government of regime change not a government of national unity… Hillary Rodham Clinton, the US Secretary of State came to visit Africa on her Africa safari, she also visited South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma… and seemed to be leaning on him that he must lean on Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to finalize the regime change otherwise sanctions would not be lifted….”


The Zimbabwe Times