Namibia: Ruling Swapo's Two-Thirds Majority Broken

Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-second session.

THE ruling Swapo Party has lost its overwhelming parliamentary dominance after gaining 63 seats in the National Assembly election - just short of a two-thirds majority that would have enabled the party to push through constitutional changes despite opposition from other parties.

President Hage Geingob won re-election with 56,3% of the votes cast in the presidential election - a fall of more than a third from his 87% share of the vote in 2014. Independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula received 29,4% of the votes in the presidential election, ending in second place after Geingob.

The ruling party enjoyed an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly since 1994 and reached a high point of winning 77 out of 96 voting seats in the 2014 election.

A total of 820 227 votes were cast in this year's National Assembly election, according to results announced by the Electoral Commission of Namibia on Saturday evening.

Swapo received 536 861 of the votes, which is equivalent to 65,5% and earned the ruling party 63 of the voting seats in the National Assembly.

Coming in second is the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), which gained 136 576 votes or 16,6% of the total number of votes cast.

The quota to qualify for a seat in the National Assembly was set at 8 544 votes.

Eleven out of the fifteen political parties that contested the National Assembly election won seats in parliament.

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) is the biggest winner with 16 seats, followed by new entrants the Landless People's Movement (LPM) with four seats.

The PDM won five seats in the National Assembly in the 2014 election.

Other political parties that gained seats in the National Assembly for the first time include the Christian Democratic Voice Party and the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), which won one and two seats respectively.

The United Democratic Front (UDF), National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo), All People's Party and Republican Party won two seats each, while the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and Swanu scraped back into the National Assembly with one seat each.

The four parties that did not qualify for any seats in parliament are the former official opposition the Congress of Democrats, the Workers Revolutionary Party, the National Patriotic Front and the National Democratic Party.

In a short statement delivered after his re-election, Geingob downplayed the importance of a two-thirds majority in parliament, saying it could not prevent the National Assembly from passing important laws.

Geingob said the two-thirds majority can only be useful when deciding on crucial things such as amending the constitution.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani in an interview with The Namibian said it was good news that the two-thirds majority was broken.

"It will sanitise the politics of the country. It will sanitase the debate in the house, legislation and we will start listening to each other, because we are sitting with a government that doesn't listen to anyone," Venaani said.

*With additional reporting by Werner Menges

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