Namibia at the polls: SWAPO tipped to win


Voting is currently underway in Namibia`s Presidential and Legislative elections. However, the poll is expected to see the ruling South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) retain power in a country it has run since independence 24 years ago.

The polling stations opened at 07:00am local time and will close around 14 hours later in the latest closing stations. Some voters had already waited patiently for the stations to open since 4:00am.

Voters at Katutura Township, outside the capital Windhoek, formed long lines before daybreak, including some first-time "born free" voters - those born after independence in 1990.

e-Vote – a first for Africa

Namibia`s fifth election since independence is being touted as seeing the first ever e-vote in Africa with around 1.2 million people expected to cast their ballots electronically.

Voting was initially slow, as presiding officers at Katutura rolled out the new electronic voting system. But things quickly sped up.

"Once it starts, it`s fast," said one of the voters exiting the polling booth.

On entry to the polling station, electoral officers checked voting cards against the voters roll as well as the thumb for signs of indelible ink indicating the person has already voted.

The voters cast their ballots for presidential and parliamentary candidates on separate machines, chunky slabs of green and white plastic with the names and images of candidates and their party affiliation that make a loud beep after each vote.

Namibia’s opposition parties had launched an 11th-hour court challenge to stop the vote from going ahead, saying the use of Indian-made e-voting machines could facilitate vote rigging.

The High Court in Windhoek dismissed the case.

The future

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who has served a maximum two five-year terms in office, is expected to pass on the reigns to his Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, if the former liberation movement wins the election.

SWAPO won 75 percent of the vote in the last election, but the party has seen increased criticism of the slow pace of land reform as well as allegations of government corruption.

Photo caption: EXPECTED TO TAKE REIGNS... Prime Minister and Swapo presidential candidate Hage Geingob. Image: Namibian Sun.