Politicians target youth

16 January 2014 Author  

front vote 17 janAs the electoral commission of Namibia launched its voter registration drive this week Wednesday, a youth voter mobilisation and election drive campaign has also been launched to mobilised the youth to vote. According to the Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council (NYC), Mandela Kapere, the aim is not only to encourage youth to register to vote but also to vote in large numbers in the 2014 general and presidential elections.

“In this regard I appeal to all of you as youth and youth leaders to not only support this programme, but also to endeavour through your own efforts to rally a massive youth turnout for these elections,” Kapere said in a statement.

He continued to say that a large youth turnout would represent a serious political statement on our part to the leadership of the country and those in decision-making positions would see that the youth are a serious political and social factor.

Kapere further informed the NYC affiliates that his office was planning a tour for youth leaders to visit and evaluate various youth development initiatives throughout the country.

The planned trip to the various regions would be a good opportunity to encourage those that felt detached from central government to take part in general and presidential elections, whilst speaking to people about the various youth programmes for the year.

The first day of registration for voters was on 15 January 2014 and it would continue until 2 March 2014, throughout the country.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Prime Minister Hage Geingob were among the first to register for voting on Wednesday this week.

Even the opposition have shown a proactive approach to the upcoming elections, as DTA president McHenry Venaani went to different social hubs in Windhoek conducting meet and greets with the public.

At a press briefing earlier this week, Venaani urged the public to pay no attention to President Pohamba’s advice not to vote if they did not want to, but instead to come out and vote in large numbers this year.

The first day of registration however, also experienced some hiccups when it came to registration machines and members of the public were unclear about what documentation they could use at certain registration stations.

Considering the voter apathy experienced in the last elections it would represent a first if all the efforts by both the ruling party and the opposition, actually reflected in the number of people who come out to vote later in the year.

The 1999 national assembly and presidential elections, the liveliest election campaign since 1989 saw turnout rise to an estimated 61 percent from the lows of 1998.

However, serious doubts about the accuracy of the voters roll, which featured numerous repeat entries and ghost voters, might have meant that the actual turnout was somewhat higher.

In the wake of a fiercely fought campaign during which the CoD was at the receiving end of some extreme rhetoric from Swapo politicians, local observers expressed several reservations about the elections.

The Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN) and the Namibia NGO Forum (Nangof) said the election was free but not completely fair due to intimidation and hate speech on the campaign trail.

Swapo strengthened its majority in the National Assembly to 55 from 53 seats while Founding President Sam Nujoma increased his vote to 77 percent support in the presidential poll.

Every adult Namibian citizen over the age of 18 has the right to vote in Namibia’s elections. In local authority elections, a voter must have lived in the local authority area for at least a year before the voting takes place.

General voter registration takes place at least every ten years and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) declares occasional supplementary registration periods.

General registration took place in 1992 and again in 2003 after the process faced delays for a year due to the Delimitation Commission not deciding on constituency boundaries in time.

The country abandoned continuous registration of voters in 2001 after the scheme ran into a number of problems, including officials registering the same people repeatedly to earn more money and making serious errors such as listing people in the wrong constituencies.

Partly because of these flaws, many regarded the voters register for the 1999 elections as unreliable.

Voters can register using a variety of documents including an identity (ID) card, passport, birth certificate or driving license.

If they do not have these available, they have to have sworn statements verifying the voter’s identity from two persons who are also eligible to vote.

Some 32 percent of people registering for the 1999 NA elections did so by using sworn statements, raising concerns that many Namibians did not have valid ID documents and that the heavy reliance on sworn statements could encourage fraud.

The country established the Electoral Commission in 1992 to supervise national, regional and local elections. The Directorate of Elections is the administrative arm of the Commission.

The Commission supervises all electoral activities including voter registration, party registration, candidate nomination, conduct of polls, counting of votes and the announcement of results.

The Commission also oversees voter education although the Electoral Act (Number 24 of 1992, and as amended in 1994, 1998 and 1999) does not specifically mention this as part of its mandate.
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The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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