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Elections 2014: The likely scenario

By Fanuel Katshenye
November this year marks Namibia's 6th national elections. Interestingly, again, up for grabarethe presidency and the 72 seats in the nation's National Assembly.

It still remains every citizen's guess on whom of the contesting presidential and National Assembly candidates will emerge victorious.

The governing SWAPO Party has hitherto won convincingly all the previous elections - from the Constituent Assembly elections of November 1989 to the last Presidential and National Assembly elections of November 2009. Will the same scenario repeat itself at this year'srace? Only election results will tell.

However, drawing from past election experiences, a likely scenario can be depicted. Results have shown that the real competition for parliamentary seats has been between the country's fragmented opposition political parties themselves. In the November 1989 Constituent Assembly elections, for example, stiff competition was between SWAPO and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA). SWAPO won with 41 seats, superior to the DTA's 21 seats, despite the alliance's huge backing from apartheid authorities through "slash" funding.

Recall that the Constituent Assembly transformed itself into the First National Assembly (1990- 1994). The DTA, ananti-SWAPO tribalalliance created by apartheid South Africa in 1978, has since seen its support rate tumbling due to internal squabbles and the haunt from its siding with apartheid colonial rule.In the November 1994 national elections, the DTA performed poorly and took a dive from 21 to 15 seats (20,78 percent), compared to SWAPO's share of seats which increased from 41 to a massive 53 seats (73,89percent).

At the following elections in 1999, a new oppositionparty - the Congress of Democrats (COD) - joined the election competition scene with a vow to "bring change". Its campaign strategy was threefold: opposition to the Third Term of Office for Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma;Namibia's participation in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and what it termed the"aging" SWAPO leadership. Here the main loser was the alliance as the COD wrestled the official opposition status and dethroned the DTA,although with a smaller margin. The COD collected 53,289 votes (7 parliamentary seats or 9, 94percent), and the DTA 50, 824 votes, representing 7 seats or 9, 48percent). SWAPO scooped 408, 174 votes, translating into 55 seats or 67, 15percent). The COD managed narrowly to keep its official opposition status in the 2004 elections (59,465 votes) representing 5 seats or 7, 29percent).The DTA's share dropped to 41,714 votes, representing 4 seats (5, 11percent). SWAPO retained its lead with 620, 787 votes, which represented 55 seats or 76, 11percent).

Another new political rival - the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) - emerged on the election platform in the November 2009 elections. As the trend continued to indicate, the RDP became the official opposition with 90,556 votes, rewardingit 8 seats (11,31percent) against the COD's 5,375 votes or 1 seat (0,67percent). Poor performer DTA's votesdipped further to 25,393 or 2 seats (3, 17percent). SWAPO, too, saw a percentage drop from 55 to 54 seats (75, 27percent), but held onto its two-thirds majority position.

Will pigs fly this year where the RDP could increase its current share of seats from eight to somewhere above? Could the RDP perform magic where pastofficial oppositions have failed? A quick glance at the opposition's combined National Assembly seats since 1990 indicates the opposite. Between 1990 and 1994 (First National Assembly) the opposition's combined share of votes accounted for 31 seats.During the Second National Assembly (1995-1999) the combined seats plummeted to 19 seats. At the Third and Fourth National Assembly(2000-2004) and (2005- 2009) respectively, their tally plunged further to 17 seats. At the Fifth National Assembly contest, the combined votes improved with a percentage increase from 17 to 18 seats.

Simply put, the opposition's combined voteshave been fluctuating between 18 and 19 seats since the 1999 elections. This scenario is likely not to change in favour of the opposition. Certainlythe November 2014 elections will not field a new opposition party.Thiswill present SWAPO with insignificant competition from a weakening and disintegrating official opposition RDP.

The RDP has been rocked by massive resignations in recent months, including by some of its senior members. In early May this year, some 449 opposition members in the Omaheke Region alone defected from RDP, NUDO, SWANU and DTA and joined or re-joined SWAPO. The defectors were residents of Otjombinde, Kalahari and Aminuis Constituencies of the eastern region.The desertions and resignations could adversely influence the RDP's voters' confidence, of whicha significant number consists of migratory voters. The likelihood is the RDP may drop from current 8 seats down to somewhere between 6 and 7due to desertions and resignations out of frustration.

What does the future hold for the other opposition parties represented in the National Assembly? Very bleak indeed!Voters' trust in the DTA got a knock with a rescinded threat to expel former party President KatuutireKaura from the alliance. And if the voting pattern is not altered, the DTA may settle with less than two seats, regardless of the ambitious efforts by its youthful President McHenry Venaani to resuscitate the alliance. As for the COD, only sheer luck could donate yet another single seat to the party whose mean popularity continue to decline.

The same unpalatable fate may befall APP, RP and SWANU who currently hold single seats in the National Assembly, thanks to the country's proportional representation system. The other likelihood is NUDO and UDF may hold onto their two seats each given their solid traditional support bases. However, the opposition's combined shareof seats maythis time fluctuate between 15 and 16 seats, taking into account SWAPO's fielding of Dr Hage Geingob as its presidential candidate. Some groups and individuals have already thrown their support behind Dr Geingob's candidacy for Head of State.

Unless Dr Geingob becomes the exception, which is doubtful, none of the fielded opposition presidential candidateshad matched SWAPO's candidates in the past elections. The tally for both SWAPO and Dr Geingob could even surpass that of previous elections, given the euphoria that followed Dr Geingob's election as SWAPO Vice-President. Notwithstanding the above, the opposition is confident of spoiling SWAPO's party this year, although common sense dictates that pigs maynot fly.





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