Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 23, September 2009
Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique ready for elections
by Kizito Sikuka

Preparations for elections in Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique are now at an advanced stage with the respective electoral commissions announcing polling dates.

Botswana and Mozambique will go to the polls on 16 and 28 October respectively, while Namibia will hold its elections on 27 and 28 November.

Botswana is holding general elections to choose new parliamentarians. The Parliament will then act as an electoral college to choose the President.

In its election manifesto, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) led by President Seretse Khama Ian Khama has promised to continue improving the living standards of Batswana.

The BDP, which has never lost an election since independence in 1966, is however, set to face a stiff challenge from the main opposition, the Botswana Congress Party that has formed a pact with the Botswana Alliance Movement.

The opposition has made a pledge to broaden the country’s economic base by diversifying the economy through agriculture development and manufacturing, and not only rely on mining.

President Khama is expected to declare Election Day a Public Holiday to ensure more people go out and vote.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission, about 725,000 people have registered to take part in the elections.

In Namibia, where the country will hold its fourth presidential and National Assembly polls, campaigning has reached top gear with analysts already predicting a win for the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) as opposition parties have come short in their manifestos.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has set the elections over two days adding that nominations of party and independent candidates will be done on 19 October.

SWAPO has confirmed President Hifikepunye Pohamba as its candidate to run against leaders from other parties such as the Rally for Democracy and Progress, and the Congress of Democrats.

However, the opposition parties have made an appeal to ECN to hold elections on a single day rather than over two days arguing that the size of the country is too small to warrant voting over two days.

Fears are that the new system can also lead to rigging and other corrupt practices since votes will be counted at the polling stations.

ECN announced the new voting system following a heated debate in Parliament over the issue.

President Pohamba has urged the electorate to vote for the ruling party, which has been in power since independence in 1990.

SWAPO has made an undertaking to deal with the high unemployment rate, poor service delivery and poverty.

Opposition parties have been blamed for falling short in their campaign manifestos.

The opposing parties do not have shadow cabinets or elaborate programmes and plans in the event power is transferred to them.

Mozambique, the other southern African country to hold elections this year, closed nomination for presidential candidates in July.

Three candidates from a total of nine successfully applied to vie for the presidency.

President Armando Guebuza who has been in power since 2004 will represent the ruling Frelimo party while the main opposition Renamo and the newly established Mozambique Democratic Movement will be represented by Afonso Dhlakama and Daviz Simango respectively.

The elections will be Mozambique’s fourth since the end of a civil war in 1994 and will coincide with the country’s first provincial assembly polls.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is expected to deploy election observers in the three countries as part of its exercise to ensure that the polls are conducted in compliance with guidelines adopted by Member States.

Other countries expected to go to elections in 2009 are Angola, Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their polling dates are yet to be announced.

Earlier this year, South Africa and Malawi held elections that were described by SADC and the African Union as being in conformity with regional standards and principles.

The African National Congress led by President Jacob Zuma and the Democratic Progressive Party led by President Bingu wa Mutharika won the South African and Malawian polls respectively.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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