Political parties target virgin voters

Political parties have intensified their efforts to garner support ahead of the November presidential and National Assembly elections by targeting the virgin vote.

This comes after the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) launched a voter registration exercise yesterday, to run till 1 August.

All Namibians aged 18 and older are eligible to vote in the November elections.

Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary candidate Willem Amutenya said Swapo has been an advocate of youth participation in politics.

Willem Amutenya

Amutenya said he witnessed many young people lining up to register and encouraged more to do so.

“Nature has assigned us, the youth, the responsibility of ensuring the political future of this country. We are the majority eligible voters, therefore, we should honour that assignment by registering to vote and thereafter casting our vote.”

Amutenya further called on the ECN to ensure youth friendly and fast services to avoid long queues.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Youth Command leader Duminga Ndala said it’s crucial for young people to register to vote to shape policy.

“Registering to vote is a fundamental civic duty and a powerful way to influence government policies, therefore, it is important that young people are engaged in these political processes in order to help craft policies that speak to their aspirations and realities.”

Ndala encouraged young people to take the lead to achieve better representation and an inclusive, effective government.

She noted that the LPM has launched online campaigns to attract the youth.

“Furthermore, we have been having outreaches to motivate and encourage a higher turnout. Just last week, we had a soccer tournament at Rehoboth. We engaged young people to go out in their numbers and register to vote.”

Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) youth leader Theresia Mushaandja said NEFF is currently running an education awareness programme.

“This is because we are convinced that economic freedom can only be attained by actively participating in the elections. Outside this, they cannot take charge of the future for which they are custodians.”

The ability to contribute to economic emancipation lies in actively participating in the elections, Mushaandja said.

Meanwhile, president Nangolo Mbumba also urged young people to register to vote when he did so at Olympia in Windhoek yesterday morning.

“That is your licence as a Namibian citizen to exercise your right to vote and elect either the organisation, party or individual to represent you in your region or the whole country.”

Mbumba said it only takes 15 minutes per person to register.

ECN chairperson Elsie Nghikembua said Windhoek saw a slow turnout of young people registering to vote and urged the youth to register before the closing date.

“We do not have the scope to extend the registration process,” she said.

Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) president Panduleni Itula registered at the Philadelphia Church at Katutura yesterday.

“I am not going to be a prophet of the future, however, we are confident in the IPC that we shall be winning a landslide in this country. I am not going to be surprised when Swapo gets 29% of the votes,” he said.

Itula urged young people to contribute to a brighter future.

Meanwhile, the elderly at Keetmanshoop were the first to queue up at different registration points yesterday.

Ernstine Jagger (68) said she was eager to cast her vote before the nation goes to the polls in November.

Jagger said the elderly are and should be an example for the youth. She noted that she wanted to demonstrate the importance of voting in a national election to elect a credible government to bring needed change.

During the first three hours of registration at the Keetmanshoop Rehabilitation Centre yesterday, only about 10 eligible voters were registered, while about 20 were registered at the WK Rover Hall.

The region has 140 registration points across its seven constituencies, with an estimated 72 000 eligible voters.

//Kharas electoral officer Jejamaiie Mujoro said the region is well prepared to conduct voter registration.

“We have our young and old that we have equipped on how to register and we’ve also held our sensitisation meetings and campaigns for the general public to understand that even if you were registered during the last elections, everybody must register to renew their voters cards to be eligible for the 27 November election,” said Mujoro.

Slow Start, Technical Glitches Delay Voter’s Registration in Oshana
A number of voter registration points in the Oshana region saw a sluggish start to the registration process yesterday morning.

According to Oshana ECN returning officer Amon Haimbangu, technical glitches and a low turnout contributed to the slow start.

“However, the numbers only started to pick up later around lunchtime. We also had a slow start, because we were experiencing a lot of technical glitches with our printing machines, but we have managed to have them fixed by our technicians and all the mobile registration points in the region are functioning well so far.”

Haimbangu added that registration points in urban areas have so far registered only a few voters compared to the rural areas, where people are turning up in large numbers.

“I am urging all the eligible voters to go out in their numbers and register for the new voters’ cards on time. It is crucial that everyone register themselves on time and avoid last minute registration. No one will be allowed to vote with the old voters’ cards and there will be no extension of the registration process.”

A resident of the Uupindi informal location at Oshakati, Namwandi Erassy, expressed his disappointment with the ECN for not having fixed registration points in the region because some people work late and may not be in time to register at the mobile points.

He also called on officials to speed up the registration process.

“The officials are really slow and not everyone is patient enough to wait that long. They must improve their service,” he said.

Oniipa constituency councilor Vilho Nuunyango yesterday said many people in the constituency have shown an interest in registering for the new voters’ cards and many of the centres he visited were packed with eligible voters.

ECN spokesperson Mulauli Siluka said the commission has appointed 14 youth ambassadors from all regions to help entice and motivate young people to register.

“Miss Teen Namibia is one of the ambassadors and she registered today at MTC at Olympia.”

Siluka said social media campaigns aim to reach as many young people as possible.

“We are also sending SMSes on mobile numbers and call-in interviews on local radio stations,” he added.

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