By Prof Paul John Isaak, Chief Electoral Officer of the Election Commission of Namibia, 5 February 2015.
1. Background to the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections
The Electoral Act, Act 5 of 2014, read with Section 3 states that “the objectives of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) are to organise, direct, supervise, manage and control the conduct of elections and referenda in a fair, fair, independent, credible, transparent and impartial manner as well as to strengthen constitutional democracy and to promote democratic electoral and referenda processes.”
On such a mandate and objectives the ECN conducted the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections on Friday, 28 November 2014. The elections were held under the theme “Consolidating Namibia’s Democracy.” At the outset as we shall argue here below two points: First, the Presidential and National Assembly Elections were credible reflections of the will of the electorate of Namibia, and second, the booklet, Celebrating 25 Years of Democratic Elections, testifies to the fact that the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections were indeed free, fair, credible, and democratic.
I make such a statement in light of the words as expressed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba. He has praised the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for conducting free, fair and transparent 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections. President Pohamba said that despite challenges, the ECN conducted credible, modern and successful elections which comply with regional and international standards.
President Pohamba said: “Namibia is proud of these men and women who worked day and night to give our country a high quality election process.” President Pohamba also congratulated the entire nation on successful elections, saying it is another demonstration that multi-party democracy had grown deep roots in Namibia as its chosen system of governance. He further commended all political parties which participated in the elections for the contribution to strengthening democracy in the country. President Pohamba applauded President-Elect Hage Geingob from the SWAPO-Party as well the newly-elected Members of the Parliament.
All the contesting political parties, the candidates, the electorate and all stakeholders in the country must be commended for the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves during the electoral process and the same spirit prevailed in the post-election period. According to a statement by the DTA of Namibia, as quoted in The Namibian Sun of 19 December 2014, it is expected from all Namibian political parties after the just concluded elections that the “Presidential and National Assembly election race has been run, and it is now the responsibility of all parties to put their differences aside and collectively contribute to addressing Namibia’s developmental challenges.”
To put it differently, Namibia must be congratulated, notwithstanding some challenges for having conducted free, fair, independent, credible, and transparent Presidential and National elections as well as the use of EVMs during the 2014 elections. Such elections in Namibia demonstrated once again that Namibia is the place where democracy in action works.
But in order to read more on the success story of the just concluded 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, one ought to consult certain credible sources to verify such statements on the successful 2014 elections in Namibia. Let me turn to this aspect and look closer into one specific source.
2. A Booklet with the title: Celebrating 25 Years of Democratic Elections: Years of 1989 to 2014
This booklet is a very useful tool to do research on the story of the 25 years of democratic elections in Namibia. Well known personalities in their own academic fields contributed towards the book.
Professor Heribert Weiland reflects on the 2014 Elections by asking the question whether the 2014 elections have the sign of a new beginning within the African context. His answer is affirmative. Mr Graham Hopwood has done an outstanding research on the Namibian elections since 1989. Briefly he highlighted each of the Namibian elections since 1989.
Professor Gerhard Tötemeyer articulated on the themes of elections and democracy in Namibia. A must read part of the booklet, especially when he discussed democracy from the perspective of whether one can “eat democracy” or how democracy is directly related to bread and butter issues.
Dr Henning Melber focuses on the political history of Namibia with special reference to The Constitution of the Republic of Namibia. He asked the basic question whether Namibia experienced after 25 years of constitutional democracy progress or regress. His main argument is that constitutional principles should never be abandoned, twisted or deformed because “the fight for democracy, human rights, dignity and justice will always continue, in different forms and degrees, under whichever political order.”
Professor Bill Lindeke has the task to reflect of the three central political leaders of Namibia since independence because “Namibia can boast of having presidents who are among the most trusted and best performing on the African continent.” Therefore the author focusses on President Sam Nujoma, President Hifikepunye Pohamba, and President-Elect, Hage Geingob. This section shall be good informative reading for the beginners on Namibian political leadership and democratic elections at the expense of the key role of the civil societies are somewhat irrelevant. Therefore, as an academic and community activist he approached the subject from the perspective of the marginalised.
So, what do we learn from this booklet? First a deeper insight into elections and democracy, and second an accurate statistical information on the election results since 1989. Let me briefly explicate:
3. Elections and Democracy in Namibia
The first aspect of the booklet is on elections and democracy. Let us underscore that elections and democracy means that Namibians want to see tangible benefits from having voted and that issues such as employment, alleviation of poverty, gender equality, adequate social and medical care, adequate and affordable housing, quality education and allocation to land must be successfully addressed and implemented. To put it more strongly and boldly, only when such basic needs of daily life are implemented the electorate will believe that people could “eat democracy” and that democracy delivers credible products.
To concretise upon the concept of “eating democracy” let me add that through democratic elections any government ought to enable the poor access to food, proper and affordable housing, clinics and hospitals, and safe and peaceful environment in the whole country.
I am of the opinion that basic human needs—protection of the environment; food; clothing; shelter; health care and, by implication, the basic socio-political need for human dignity, human rights and integrity are part and parcel of democracy. Democratic practice, in turn, is a good basis for even and equitable distribution of the resources for Namibians.
To reiterate, there ought to be a definite conceptual linkage between socio-politico-economic rights and democracy as well as between functioning democracy and electoral processes. Once such integration has been achieved one can proudly say that through any election the will of the people is victorious. Let me now briefly focus on the second aspect of the booklet.
4. The Results of the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections
The second aspect that is highlighted in the booklet is statistic information of all Namibian elections since 1989, in particularly on what happened on Friday, 28 November 2014. A total of nine candidates ran for the presidency, whilst sixteen political parties contested the National Assembly elections. Incumbent President Hifikepunye Pohamba was unable to stand for re-election due to constitutional term limits, and shall be succeeded by President-Elect Hage Geingob of the ruling SWAPO Party, who won the presidential elections with a historic ground breaking record of 86. 73 per cent of the vote.
To get statistical information on the results of the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections the booklet provides valuable statistical information on page 18 on the results of Presidential Elections since 1994. For our immediate attention the results for the 2014 Presidential election were as follow:
In accordance with Section 109 (2) of the Electoral Act, Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob was declared as the President-Elect. He has accumulated a total of Seven Hundred and Seventy Two Thousand Five Hundred Twenty Eight (772, 528) votes in the Presidential race, duly elected as President with effect from such date as determined by the Namibian Constitution. In a summary form the results were:
TOTAL VOTES: 890,738
|1||Geingob, Hage Gottfried||772,528||86.73|
|2||Hamutenya, Hidipo Livius||30, 197||3.39|
|5||Mudge, Henry Ferdinand||8,676||0.97|
|6||Mukwiilongo, Jan Epafras Mulinasho||2,514||0.28|
|7||Shixwameni, Ignatius Nkotongo||7,266||0.82|
|8||Ulenga, Ulenga Benjamin||3,518||0.39|
|9||Venaani, McHenry Mike Kanjonokere||44,271||4.97|
As indicated above, on 28 November 2014, eligible Namibians voted for the Presidential Election. The outcome of the Presidential election was that Dr Geingob received 86.63 per cent votes. Thereby Namibia remains politically stable, with a new government to take office in March 2015. In other words, the country did have the opportunity to build a stronger democracy and system of governance that are accommodative to all.
To that effect, the President-Elect, Dr Hage Geingob, displayed some humility by acknowledging the weight of expectations that Namibians have placed on him in his acceptance speech, and by calling on all Namibians to work with him. “I cannot carry out [the responsibilities] alone,” he said. “Let’s hold hands. I will be President of all the Namibian people. No Namibian must feel left out,” Dr Geingob emphasised.
In summary: Compare to other elections, the ECN is glad to repeat the 1989 success story. The November 2014 Presidential and National Assembly Elections are historic in the sense that for the first time since 1989 the results were not challenged, unlike in the aftermath of previous elections.
Second, it is historic in the sense that for the first time a presidential candidate, namely President–Elect, Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob was elected by the entire electorate of Namibia and won a historic ground breaking record of 86.73 per cent votes.
Lastly, Namibians have made Namibia a proud democratic African country and thereby the theme “Consolidating Namibia’s Democracy” was not merely a slogan but a reality and such reality was made possible by the Namibian nation.
Now a brief look into the results of the National Assembly Elections of 2014. A total of sixteen (16) Political Parties contested the National Assembly Elections. The results as summarised on pages 24-26 in the booklet is as follows:
PARTY VOTES SEATS
|All People’s Party||20,431||2|
|Christian Democratic Voice Party||2,606||0|
|Congress of Democrats||3,404||0|
|Democratic Party of Namibia||1,131||0|
|DTA of Namibia||42,933||5|
|Monitor Action Group||3,073||0|
|Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters||3,259||0|
|National Democratic Party of Namibia||1,389||0|
|National Unity Democratic Organisation||17,942||2|
|Rally of Democracy and Progress||31,372||3|
|Republican Party of Namibia||6,099||1|
|SWANU of Namibia||6,354||1|
|SWAPO Party of Namibia||715,026||77|
|United Democratic Front of Namibia||18,945||2|
|United People’s Movement||6,353||1|
|Workers Revolutionary Party||13,328||2|
In summary SWAPO also won the National Assembly elections, taking 80.01 per cent of the vote or 77 out of the 92 seats.
Finally, it was indeed a heart-warming experience to watch as hundreds of thousands of Namibians braced the heat of the sun and patiently waited in long queues to cast their votes at various polling stations across the country. Surely, Namibians from all walks of life and of different age demonstrated their unwavering commitment to democracy.
The ECN expresses its appreciation, first to the leaders and supporters of the different political parties for the generally peaceful political environment which reigned before, during, and after the elections. Also the results were accepted in the same spirit when the official elections results were announced on 1 December 2014.
Second, the great support that the ECN received from the Namibian Police and the Government of the Republic of Namibia cannot go unnoticed. Had it not been for the sacrifices of the Namibian Police as well as our Polling Officials who tirelessly worked day and night, the success of these elections would not have been a reality.
Third, the financial support and the financing of the entire election budget that the ECN received from the Government of the Republic of Namibia is absolutely appreciated. The Government funded in its totality the election budget of the elections.
Lastly and most importantly as the ECN our thanks go to the publishers of the booklet, Celebrate 25 Years of Democratic Elections: 1989-2014. They published and distributed as a free supplement in Republikein, Namibian Sun, and Allgemeine Zeitung the booklet in December 2014. In particularly our sincere thanks and appreciation for the person who was responsible for the conceptualization and marketing, namely Ms Carolin Guriras.
We as the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) do submit this word of thanks in bold humility and do accept and receive this book in the same spirit. I Thank You.