Namibians vote in tight contest clouded by financial disaster

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WINDHOEK (Information) – Namibians voted on Wednesday in what was anticipated to be the hardest contest but for the get together that has dominated for 3 a long time of independence because the southern African nation wrestles with an financial disaster and its greatest corruption scandal.

President Hage Geingob, Namibia’s third chief for the reason that sparsely populated and principally arid nation freed itself from the shackles of apartheid South Africa in 1990, is in search of a second and closing time period from 1.three million registered voters.

Geingob’s ruling SWAPO get together has efficiently tackled a few of the issues left after a long time of neglectful rule, first by Germany after which by white minority South African administrations.

SWAPO is now contending with an financial system in recession for practically three years, one in all Namibia’s worst droughts and its greatest graft scandal – all of which have conspired to make this vote unexpectedly robust for Geingob, who gained by 87% final time.

“I campaigned like hell but when I lose I’ll settle for that. I’m a democrat,” Geingob informed reporters shortly after voting whereas Fashionable Democratic Motion opposition get together chief McHenry Venaani stated he was “very assured of successful”.

Geingob faces 9 challengers together with Panduleni Itula, a dentist-turned-politician who’s a SWAPO member however operating as an impartial. Itula is in style with younger folks, practically half of whom are unemployed.

Concurrent legislative polls will elect 96 members of parliament, testing SWAPO’s 77-seat majority. Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) and shut at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT).

Outcomes are anticipated inside 48 hours.

Below SWAPO, the previous guerrilla motion that fought for independence, the proportion of Namibians dwelling beneath the poverty line fell by three quarters, from practically 70 p.c in 1993 to 17 p.c in 2016, in response to the World Financial institution.

The financial system has been marred by a drought that ravaged agricultural export crops, in addition to by unprofitably low costs for Namibia’s predominant arduous commodities, uranium and diamonds.

The Financial institution of Namibia expects the financial system to contract by 1.7% in 2019, which might be its third yr of declines in a row.

A scandal during which two ministers have been alleged to have conspired to dole out fishing licenses to Iceland’s greatest fishing agency, Samherji, in return for kickbacks has additionally taken the shine off the ruling get together.

“I need change. I’m sick and drained about corruption on this nation which nobody is doing something about,” 55-year-old businessman Jacques Kotzee stated after voting.

However loyalty to the previous guerrilla motion stays excessive.

“Namibia has gone by a really horrible time,” Leevylee Abrahams stated after casting his vote. “However I’m voting for continuity as a result of I consider that this authorities can actually enhance the lives of individuals, given an opportunity once more.”

Whether or not the result’s shut or not, a SWAPO win is prone to be controversial, particularly since a courtroom threw out a case mounted by the opposition towards the usage of digital voting machines it fears can be used to cheat.

The army stated in a press release it was on excessive alert for violence, which Namibia has averted in earlier polls.

Writing by Tim Cocks; Modifying by Paul Tait and David Clarke