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Global issue 20

Spotlight Namibia Swapo takes easy victory Unlike some of its African neighbours, the relatively young country of Namibia is stable and secure, but lacks a robust opposition in parliament Neil Ford As Namibia approaches the 25th anniversary of its independence, the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) shows no sign of losing its grip on power. It won an easy victory in the 28 November legislative and presidential elections, cementing its quarter century in power. The party continues to attract support for its leading role in winning independence from South Africa in 1990 but, unlike political parties in many other African countries in a similar position, it has not interfered in the electoral process in order to maintain its grip over Namibian politics. Given previous election results in the country, the victory of Swapo candidate Hage Geingob in the presidential poll was a foregone conclusion. The man who had served as Prime Minister for a total of 14 years took 86.7 per cent of the vote, with the remaining 13.3 per cent shared among eight other candidates and turnout at a fairly healthy 71.8 per cent. Geingob, who will take up his new position on 21 March, is only the third President in the country’s independent history, following in the footsteps of Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba (see page 26 for more on Pohamba). The former ruled from 1990 until 2005, while Pohamba was required to stand down after serving the maximum two five-year terms allowed under the new constitution. Given previous election results in the country, the victory of Swapo candidate Hage Geingob in the presidential poll was a foregone conclusion In the parliamentary election, Swapo took 80 per cent of the vote, up from 75.3 per cent in the 2009 poll. The increase was largely due to a collapse in the vote for what had previously been the main opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), whose share of the vote fell from 11.3 per cent to 3.5 per cent. It was overtaken by the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), which secured 4.8 per cent in this year’s election. The Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters, which was set up recently in an attempt to replicate the success of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters in South Africa, attracted just 0.4 per cent of the vote on its platform of mine nationalisation. Swapo was originally a communist party but, in common with many other far-left ruling parties in other parts of Africa, it has moved to the centre and now supports private ownership, enterprise and investment. Under the country’s system of proportional representation, Swapo took 30 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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