Polls opened on Wednesday in Namibia. The general election is seen as a major test for the country’s ruling party the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) which has been in power since independence from South Africa in 1990, reported Daily Nation.
More than 1.3 million people have registered to vote in Wednesday’s presidential and parliamentary polls.
President Hage Geingob is eyeing a second term and to extend the rule of the South West African People’s Organization even as the economy flags. Geingob got 87% of the presidential ballot in 2014, while SWAPO secured 80% support in the parliamentary vote the same year. His first term was marred by a recession for the past two years and a drought that ravaged agricultural export crops, stirring people’s anger against him and his party.
Geingob is competing with nine other candidates including Panduleni Itula, a dentist-turned-politician who is a member of the ruling SWAPO party but is running as an independent. Itula is popular with young people, nearly half of whom are unemployed.
While Geingob is widely expected to win this year’s election, his vote percentage is predicted to drop in comparison to 2014.
Earlier this month, Geingob’s government was hit by a scandal when Wikileaks released evidence of corruption in the fishing industry, the country’s second most important after mineral mining. Thousands of documents showed that senior government officials were indulged in corruption activities.
Two ministers were alleged to have conspired to give out fishing licences to Iceland’s biggest fishing firm, Samherji, in return for kickbacks has also taken the shine off the ruling party. The scandal allegedly involved 150 million Namibian dollars (US$10 million, 9.1 million euros).
Geingob has denied any involvement and said the timing was deliberately set up to damage his campaign.
The voting results are expected within 48 hours.