Analysts dissect Swakop by-election results

Ogone Tlhage
Swapo’s performance in the recently held Swakopmund by-elections is an indication that the party is losing its grip in the coastal areas, analysts say.

The by-elections last weekend saw Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) candidate Louisa Kativa garner 3 625 votes to replace her former party mate, Ciske Smith-Howard, who was the constituency councillor.

Kativa beat Swapo’s Salomon Ndara Nehemiah's 3 122 votes and Landless People's Movement's (LPM) Hilaria Tangeni Musheko, who came third with 1 362 votes.

Former deputy minister for local government and housing Gerhard Tötemeyer said Kativa had gained strong support for her role as Swakopmund mayor.

“[She] performed well as mayor and got a strong personal vote. Former Swapo voters are dissatisfied but not prepared to vote for another party, [so they] rather abstain from voting,” he said. As a result, fewer votes were cast in the by-election, he added.

On her win, Kativa said her door is open to the people of Swakopmund. “I am going to hold this office under the theme ‘love, care and faith’."

Fishrot ripple effect

Academic Rui Tyitende said it was indicative that Swapo had not yet recovered from voter apathy emanating from the Fishrot scandal, which saw scores of fishermen lose their jobs. The party had lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament following the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections.

“It is a clear indication that Swapo is still in the political intensive care unit; they have not recovered from the Fishrot scandal. The IPC, despite their internal quarrels, people still came to vote for them. Whether this will play out in 2024 is still to be seen, but if the results are anything to go by, it’s a serious blow to [Swapo].

“Swapo has not yet acknowledged that it is a party in decline,” he added.

Losing its grip

Another scholar Ndumbah Kamwanyah said Swapo is losing its grip on the coastal areas of Namibia.

“Swakopmund used to be a stronghold of the Swapo Party. For it to lose there indicates that there is a strong message. It is a reflection that the coastal voters have not forgiven the party for how it dealt with Fishrot.”

Despite the low voter turnout, it was also an indicator that opposition parties were growing in support, he noted.

“Other parties are growing. It is good that balance is there - if you don’t do good things, the voters will punish you,” he said.

Hoze Riruako added that the votes garnered by both IPC and LPM were an indication that their aggressive campaigning in the Erongo Region was paying off.

Internal elections

Meanwhile, Swapo also held internal elections last weekend in several regions to elect regional coordinators and delegates to its congress.

In Khomas, Elliot Mbako retained his position as coordinator, while business woman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun was elected as the region’s treasurer and Queen Kamati is the new information and mobilisation officer.

In Oshikoto, Armas Amukwiyu retained his position as regional coordinator while Saara Ndahepuluka Shikokola was elected officer for information and mobilisation. Andreas Shipa was elected the region’s treasurer.

In Hardap, Joplin Gontes was elected regional coordinator, Riaan McNab was elected information and mobilisation officer and Edward Wambo was elected treasurer.

In Ohangwena, Fillemon Josua was voted regional coordinator, Tuyeimo Nathingo is now the mobiliser and Selma Kawiwa is treasurer.

In Kavango East, Ottilie Shinduvi retained her position as regional coordinator while Bonifatius Kudumo was elected mobiliser and information officer.

In Kunene, Julius Kaujova was elected as the regional coordinator and Fonnie Katjingisiua was voted treasurer.