Eveline de Klerk & Steven Klukowski
WALVIS BAY – The regional council and local authority elections yesterday drew massive turnout in key battlegrounds such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and some parts of southern Namibia.
The turnout at polling stations in Narraville and urban areas in Walvis Bay exceeded the expectations of political parties as thousands of residents lined up and patiently waited their turn to cast their vote.
Some were voting for the first time.
Anna-marie Koeberg (54) is one of the many residents at Walvis Bay who exercised her democratic right by voting for the first time.
She voted at the Atlantis Sports Club after queueing up for almost three hours yesterday.
Speaking to New Era shortly after casting her vote, Koeberg said she’s never had an interest in nor understood politics.
“I am a bit embarrassed that I have waited this long to vote but this time around my whole family made it to the polls to cast our votes and I am happy that we could do that,” she said. Kobus Muller (48) was also a first-time voter who said he had educated himself about the importance of voting.
He said there are so many challenges that Namibians are facing but do not have the courage to speak up about as they do not exercise their democratic right.
Swapo Walvis Bay local authority candidate Bartholomeus Patrick said the turnout at Walvis Bay was overwhelming.
“We can see that there is a huge interest in politics now and a lot of people are first-time voters, which can be a huge advantage for our party,” he said.
Herhold Davids of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) also said he was impressed with the voter turnout at Narraville where people were queueing since the early hours of yesterday morning.
“We can see that people are hungry for change. Hence, we are positive that we will be fully represented in the local authority, at least with four seats. I am positive too that I will be voted in as the Walvis Bay Rural constituency councillor,” he said.
Meanwhile, a huge voter turnout was also observed at Keetmanshoop where voters came in droves to elect their regional and authority councillors.
When New Era visited the WK Röver polling station yesterday morning, queues stretched beyond the entrance gate within the first hour of the venue being opened for voting.
Voting stations outside Keetmanshoop in areas such as Tses and Berseba also attracted a big number of eligible voters.
Party agents furthermore said they did not find irregularities or contravention of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) procedures during the elections.
Candidates miss out
Meanwhile several party candidates could not vote in the constituencies they were contesting.
Dariou Benson, a candidate of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) for Walvis Bay Urban, could not vote for himself as he is registered as a voter in Walvis Bay Rural.
“Yes, I could not vote for myself but I cast my vote for our candidate in the rural constituency. This is because I availed myself as candidate for the urban constituency despite residing in the rural constituency,” he explained.
Kennedy Iilonga of the National Empowerment Fighting Corruption also found himself in the same situation. Iilonga earlier this year contested the Walvis Bay Urban constituency in January’s by-election.
However, yesterday he was contesting as a candidate for Walvis Bay Rural.
“Yes, I am voting here at the urban constituency because my face is on the paper for urban, but the people that nominated me as their councillor for the rural constituency must vote for me,” Iilonga said.
Ciske Howard-Smith, another IPC candidate, also explained that she could also not vote for herself despite being a candidate for Swakopmund constituency.
A first-time voter herself, Howard-Smith said she currently lives at Dolphin Park and could legally only cast her vote for Walvis Bay Urban.
“However, the law only requires one to stay in the region where you are voted for, if you are successfully voted into office,” she said.