Windhoek — The ruling Swapo Party yesterday blamed its electoral defeats in Keetmanshoop and Walvis Bay on the low turnout of voters in Wednesday's by-elections.
Swapo lost Walvis Bay Urban constituency to independent candidate Knowledge Ipinge who defeated the ruling party's Sirie Topulathana. Ipinge got 1 636 votes while Topulathana got 1 313 votes.
Similarly, Swapo was also defeated in Keetmanshoop Urban where Maxie Minnaar of the Landless People's Movement
(LPM) was duly elected as constituency councillor ahead of Festus Shilimela of the ruling party. Minnaar got 1 958 votes while Shilimela received 1 306 votes.
Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor, whose resignation last year ironically necessitated the Keetmanshoop Urban by-election, was seemingly disappointed by the outcome.
"The main reason (for the defeat) is that people saw little sense in this election. Usually, the higher the turnout, the better for us. The lower the turnout, the greater the influence of the opposition loyal supporters on the final outcome of the election," Nicanor said.
Nicanor said the ruling party will now go back to the drawing board and start in earnest with preparations for the local and regional authority elections that will take place in November this year.
"This by-election is a lesson to us - we will come out stronger this year in the local authority and regional council elections," she said.
Despite losing the two key urban constituencies, Swapo, however, retained Khomasdal and Gobabis where Samuel Angolo and Augustinus Tebele won by a landslide. In Gobabis, Tebele received 1 409 votes while his closest rival Sylvester Binga of LPM got 571. In Khomsdal, Angolo defeated LPM's Bonita Baumgartner after getting 1 227 votes. Baumgartner received 349 votes.
LPM deputy leader Henny Seibeb yesterday attributed the party's Keetmanshoop victory to a "well-articulated party manifesto".
"You see, there are many factors that contributed to the victory. One of the factors is that people are tired, people wanted change, I think people were tired of Nicanor, she is the longest serving councillor in the country, people were tired of her, so they voted for an alternative and the only alternative was LPM which had a well-articulated manifesto," Seibeb said.
Chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro yesterday congratulated all duly elected councillors from all four constituencies. Accordingly, Mujoro also thanked all polling officials for their dedication in facilitating the polling process. The elections were, however, marred by a pathetically low turnout.
Overall, a total of 73 710 voters registered to vote in the four by-elections but only 11 592 voters turned up. In Gobabis constituency, 13 457 voters registered to vote but only 2 339 turned up, while in Keetmanshoop 11 534 voters registered to vote but only 3 556 voters cast their vote.
In Khomasdal constituency, 25 550 voters registered to vote but only 2 104 voted while Walvis Bay constituency had 23 169 voters with only 3 593 taking part in the by-election.