May 18, 2004

No capital gains for Swapo in Local Authority elections

Swapo remains in control of Windhoek despite the ruling party losing one seat to opposition parties in the Local Authority elections. The Electoral Commission of Namibia announced that Swapo had scored 10 seats, down from the 11 they secured in the 1998 elections. The Congress of Democrats (CoD), the DTA, Republican Party, National Democratic Unity Organisation (Nudo) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) took one seat each. The "people's representatives" Ada/Gui, making its debut, and a residents' group, the Local Community Association (LCA), which previously had one seat, were left empty-handed.

Swapo collected 28.680 of the 45.760 votes cast in a low turnout, and saw the overall voting pattern for the party drop from 69,1 per cent to 62,6 per cent. A staggering 85.068 of the capital's 130.828 registered voters shunned the ballot box. This represents a 75 per cent stayaway. There was also a high number of spoiled votes: 689. The biggest losers in Windhoek were the DTA and the LCA. The DTA's votes dropped from 17,8 per cent to 5,8 per cent, while the LCA collected 2,8 per cent compared to 7,2 per cent in the last elections. Newcomers to the City of Windhoek are the CoD, RP, Nudo and the UDF. Of parties that have taken part in previous Local Authority elections, the UDF was the only one to record an increase in Windhoek - up from 2,93 per cent to 3,77 per cent. Neither the CoD nor Nudo have taken part in local elections before.

Nationwide, following the result of the election, Swapo now controls 29 councils, the United Democratic Front (UDF) two and the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) one, while 14 councils did not achieve an absolute majority for any party. There were no elections in the Helao Nafidi and Outapi constituencies, where Swapo was the only party to field candidates. In general, the DTA of Namibia emerged as the biggest loser, having had had control over nine local authorities in the past, it lost eight.

Although Swapo remained the dominant party in many towns, its support diminished in former strongholds such as Bethanie and Gibeon, where members either stayed away or voted for the opposition - apparently in protest against the candidates forced on them. The ruling party's seats were also cut at places such as Karibib, where they were reduced from five to three, Leonardville (six to two), Maltahöhe (five to three) and Outjo (three to two). With results from Windhoek and Grootfontein not included, Swapo had 159 councillors elected, while the CoD had scored 30 councillors in 26 towns, the DTA 30 councillors in 24 towns, the UDF 25 councillors in 13 towns, Nudo eight in six towns, the RP five in five towns, and the Namibia Democratic Movement for Change (NDMC) two councillors at Witvlei. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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