The Namibian (Windhoek)

16 December 2013

Namibia: Stay Home If You Do Not Want to Vote - Pohamba

ELIGIBLE voters who are threatening to boycott elections because of differences with the government and/or traditional authorities have been told to stay away from the polls.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba said this during the inauguration of the N$1billion Tsumeb-Katwitiwi road at the Mpungu Vlei, about 170km west of Rundu on Friday where he said he was disturbed by Kavango West residents who are threatening other people to have their way.

People at the Simanya village on the outskirts of Nkurenkuru town recently threatened to boycott next year's national and presidential elections, if government did not resolve the dispute between them and their Ukwangali Traditional Authority leader Chief Sitentu Mpasi.

The villagers accuse the Ukwangali leader of grabbing their land, and selling it to wealthy people, including outsiders.

Residents of the DRC section of Swakopmund have also threatened to return their voters' cards to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) because of a dispute over the formalisation of the informal settlement in the coastal town.

The President, who was visibly disturbed by the developments, stated in no uncertain terms that nobody will be forced to go and vote.

The Head of State, however, cautioned the people that should they decide not to vote, they would have no voice in their governance as they will not have a representative in parliament or regional council.

"Why threaten not to vote even if you have a dispute. If you don't want to go and vote, stay at home," Pohamba said.

He repeatedly told inhabitants of the Kavango West Region to stop issuing threats to the government, stressing that the country cannot be built on threats.

The President said the Tsumeb-Katwitwi road did not come from the resources of the Kavango West Region, which just like the Ohangwena Region, is dubbed the poorest regions in the country because of lack resources.

He said the funds used for development in the regions might have come from other regions with abundant resources such as fish and diamonds, and residents of Kavango West should stop making threats to government.

Pohamba said the road had not been built because of threats the people have been making, but because it is part of the infrastructural development programmes the government has in place.

The 180km Tsumeb-Katwitwi road links the Kavango West and the Oshikoto regions. It is also expected to improve transport between Namibia and south-eastern parts of Angola, and is also part of the regional link between Tsumeb and Minonge, the capital of Cuando Cubango Province in Angola.

- Nampa

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