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Swapo win 'too good to be true'

John Grobler

A 75% majority for Namibia's ruling party in this year's election has raised eyebrows.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia has declared a 75% landslide victory for Swapo in results so skewed and of such statistical improbability that even the Swapo leadership seem to think it was too good to be true.

Eight of the opposition parties agreed for the second time since the equally controversial 2004 elections, that they are taking the electoral commission to court after having entered into a pre-election pact to pool resources to fight what will be in all likelihood a drawn-out legal battle.

A nervous-looking electoral commission chairperson, Moses Ndjarakana, announced last Saturday that Swapo had won its biggest victory ever—no less than three-quarters of the vote—while the main opposition, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), got only 11%.

But the main opposition parties all boycotted the event, leaving only a glum-looking Jurie Viljoen of the Monitor Action Group, a pro-white leftover of the old National Party, sitting among rows of empty seats to be “congratulated” by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Five days earlier, Swapo announced through its SMS line that it had won by 89%—even though only three official results had been announced by then. Swapo then quickly cancelled victory parties, but the smell of a big fix was already in the air.

By Saturday, the opposition parties had filed suit, citing a wildly inaccurate voters’ roll, systematic breaches of the Electoral Act and blatant interference in the counting process that saw dozens of key constituencies record turnouts in excess of 100% .

Informal results obtained last Sunday, compiled from results posted outside polling stations where all votes had to be counted, showed the RDP taking several key constituencies and even leading at some point. That was when the commission started recounting the ballots at mysterious “verification centres”—and kept counting (up to five times, in some cases)—until they had the results they wanted.

By last Thursday, 27 out of 60 constituencies where results were announced as verified by the commission showed turnouts of more than 100%.

But election problems were erupting as early as October when the commission declared about 293 000 new voters had registered, putting the total number of voters at 1,36-million, out of a population of about 2,1-million. Yet only about 850 000 Namibians are estimated to be of voting age—and the roll contained glaring mistakes, such as several long-dead Swapo politicians.

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