|Namibians prepare to go for polls
by Pamela Chinaka
WINDHOEK, 27 November 1999
As Namibians prepare to go to the polls on November 30 and December 1, the ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) is largely expected to win for the third time running, but the newly formed Congress of Democrats (CoD) is likely to upset its chances of getting a two thirds majority.
Eight political parties will contest the parliamentary elections with the main parties in the race being SWAPO, Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) and CoD. In the presidential race, three candidates are set to challenge the
incumbent president Sam Nujoma. These are Ben Ulenga of CoD, Katuutire Kaura of DTA and Moses Katjuongwa of the Democratic Coalition of Namibia (DCN).
Political analysts believe Ben Ulenga will replace the current official opposition DTA, which they say has been steadily loosing support over the years. The party is said to have been further weakened by the retirement of its key leaders Dirk Mudge and Hans Stabby as well as the forced resignation of exiled Mishake Muyongo.
Ben Ulenga resigned from his diplomatic posting late last year, in protest against SWAPO's endorsement of a constitutional amendment which enabled President Sam Nujoma to run for the third term in office. Before the amendment, a president was only allowed to serve a maximum of two terms.
Ulenga was Namibia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
For many Namibians, issues of rising unemployment, HIV Aids and good governance are of great concern to them, and in their Manifestos, the three main parties have all promised to come up with solutions to these main
However, a research carried out by Henning Melber of Namibia Economic Policy Research Unit (NEPRU) showed that political manifestos and programmes do not play a significant role in Namibia's elections, as the electorate mainly
relied on past records of parties and personalities in deciding who to vote for.
The rate of unemployment in Namibia is currently at 30 percent, with the figure set to rise if nothing is done to create more jobs. An average 20 000
people enter the job market every year, but only
12 000 are assured of some jobs.
At rallies across the country, party after party has promised to tackle the issues of unemployment, HIV AIds and poverty alleviation. There however have been cases of intimidation against opposition parties allegedly by SWAPO
supporters and the Directorate of Elections has condemned the acts and promised to investigate.
"Any form of intimidation is a set-back to our democracy... and the Electoral commission is working closely with the police to ensure that no
intimidation takes places at rallies scheduled for this weekend," the Director of elections, Joram Rukambe told journalists at a briefing.
Addressing international observers, SWAPO's Secretary General Hifikepunye Pohamba condemned any acts of intimidation against any political party, and appealed to those involved to stop destabilising the country.
"We have read of cases of intimidation in the newspapers and these reports have disturbed us... we appeal to the people of Namibia to refrain from such acts... as want the peaceful atmosphere which has prevailed in the country
over the past nine years to continue", he said.
He told the observers that his party had also been a victim of intimidation by other political parties and had reported the cases.
Saturday and Sunday will see the last rallies of the various political parties taking place before the big day on Tuesday. (SARDC)