Namibia goes to polls amid economic crisis

Namibian President Hage Geingob prepares to cast his vote in Windhoek, Namibia, in the country's elections, Nov 27, 2019. (BRANDON VAN WYK / AP)

Namibia is set to elect a president and parliament in polls overshadowed by corruption scandals and economic crisis.

The election is expected to be a tough test for incumbent Hage Geingob, who is seeking a second four-year term as president and is competing against nine other candidates.

Geingob’s first term in office was not only tainted by numerous corruption scandals but also by rising unemployment and poverty as well as an ailing health and education sector.

Political analysts believe Geingob is unlikely to secure another landslide victory – he obtained 87 per cent of the vote in 2014 – especially since his government this month became embroiled in a multimillion-dollar scandal over fishing quotas, involving an Icelandic fisheries firm. Two ministers have resigned.

Geingob, 78, remained nonetheless confident of victory.

“This is my country and my party. You think you can come and kick me out … Who are you?” he said during a recent election rally.

Geingob’s strongest rival is independent candidate Panduleni Itula, who is also a member of the ruling SWAPO party, Namibia’s former liberation movement.

Namibia’s youth, who are struggling to find jobs in the drought-ridden southern African nation, see Itula as someone who will fight corruption if elected.

Roughly 1.35 million registered voters can begin casting their vote at 4,241 polling stations across the country between 7 am (0500 GMT) and 9 pm (1900 GMT).

The former German colony will also elect 96 members of parliament.

Results are expected within a few days of the polls. A presidential candidate needs to receive at least 50 per cent of the votes to win the election, which will otherwise go into a run-off.


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