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Helicopter used to register remote Kunene voters

2024-06-28  Correspondent

Helicopter used to register remote Kunene voters

Lahja Nashuuta


OPOWO - The government has provided a helicopter to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to register eligible voters in the hard-to-reach remote areas of Kunene region.

Mike Nganjone, ECN regional coordinator, told New Era that the helicopter was to transport officials from Opuwo to registration points in the remote areas until 26 June 2024.

Ngangone said the remote areas earmarked to be accessed by helicopter include Skeleton Coast Safaris, Sierra Cafema, Otjavaja, Okakora, Otjomumborombonga, Otjiheke Tjangututu, Onjezu, Ehekeratjitindi, Otjahawe, Oroviheke and Orokaue.

He said the region has 31 teams on the ground, and for administration purposes, it has been divided into two zones: Kunene North, which includes Opuwo urban, Opuwo rural, Epupa and Sesfontein, while Kunene South includes Kamanjab, Khorixas, Outjo with a combined team of 104 registration officials.

Furthermore, Ngangone said the registration of voters is progressing well despite minor hiccups, with more than 20 000 people registered since the commencement of the exercise on 3 June 2024. 

According to him, the majority of those who registered are youth, especially first-time voters. He was, however, quick to point out that since the school holiday started, there has been a decline in youth registration compared to the elderly, as people have left the areas for holidays.

“The turnout is not so bad at most of our centres. We register more than 100 people per day. Which, in my view, is a good number, especially in towns where most of the people have left for rural areas and other towns for holidays,” he said.

Ngangone points out the migration of the villagers from one area to another in search of grazing and water for animals, because of the drought, was one of the major challenges affecting registration teams in the region. “When the assessment was done at the beginning of this year, almost all the villages had people, but because of the nomadic nature of the villagers, especially the Ovahimba people, some villagers have very few people while others have more than we expected,” he said.

According to Ngangone, the high mobility of Ovahimba people has been noticeable in constituencies such as Epupa, Sesfontein, and Opuwo Rural where people have gone deep into the mountains where officials cannot reach them.

He however, said because of the immigration challenge of the villagers, the ECN Kunene Regional Office has decided to do a pre-assessment and oversee prior to the registration date to ensure that there are people in that area before setting up the registration point.

“In most cases, we first send out a team to mobilise people, inform them of the registration date, and just caution them not to leave the area before they are registered,” he said.


Identity documents

Ngangone also said lack of identification documents is another challenge hampering the registration processes. He said while the majority of people have identification documents, there are some who do not.

“I noticed that most of the herdsmen do not have identification documents, while some have what is called confirmation of birth certificates. There is still a month to go, and I am urging those without the identification documents to visit the ministry of home affairs and get one,” he said.

He further said: “It is a challenge here if we start registering people without Namibia identification documents because there are a lot of Angolans who also call themselves Namibians; hence, we request and urge people to familiarise themselves with the required documents.”

Kunene Rural constituency councillor Western Muharukua has also confirmed the absence of identification documents among inhabitants.

Muharukua said most people do not have ID because they don’t have money to travel to Opuwo to apply for national documents while some reside where the ministry officials could not reach during the mass registration campaign,” he said.

Muharukua said the absence of national documents has pushed many families into poverty and denied them access to government welfare programmes and grants.

2024-06-28  Correspondent

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