In Namibia’s Presidential and Parliamentary election, Ester Muinjangue made history, becoming the first woman to contest in the presidential election. The ruling SWAPO party won the election, while party NUDO retained the 2 seats which they had won in the 2014, while accumulated 1.5% of the vote. African Elections got to speak to the presidential hopeful about the Namibian plebiscite. Please note the interview was done before the results were announced.
African Elections: How are you feeling about the election?
EM: “I am not happy with the way the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) have handled this this election. It’s the second day and still no results, ECN is taking forever yet we are not even dealing with million voters. South Africa, deals with millions of voters but results come out in 2 days, yet we only have between 600000-800000 voters.
The chairperson of the ECN said he would make the announcement on Friday, then a circular was sent out that results will be announced on Saturday. It’s Saturday but still no response.”
African Elections: Would you say this election is free and fair?
EM: “The voting process started very slow. It was clear voter education was not done properly. Assisted voters took 3-5 minutes to be assisted.
Mobile stations arrived late. I remember a case that people called me around 8.30pm waiting for mobile voting station. It only came at 8.50pm, yet polls were supposed to close by 9pm. People voted after 9pm. There were a lot of hiccups, at one time the voting machinces were stuck.
If you talk of this election you can never talk about free and fair. We are starting to lose faith in the electoral system, especially which such a delay.”
African Elections: Besides the delay in election announcement, how was the campaign period?
EM: “The campaign went on well there were no incidents of violence or harassment, but our resources were limited. I am a newcomer in the field, some still hAVE doubts if I can deliver for Namibia. I am definitely going to parliament and work hard to instil trust in me.
The economy is not good as we got a lot less coverage on national radio and television. However social media captured us really well. All our star rallies were covered by Namibia Broadcasting Corperation.
African Elections: So was the media coverage fair during the campaign?
EM: “Of course there will never be fairness. The ruling party (SWAPO) had extra resources so they got extra coverage.”
African Elections: Did you hold Presidential Debates?
EM: Yes I took part in a presidential debate hosted by a radio station in which 5 presidential candidates turned up. The incumbent president didn’t come, but it was great opportunity to engage and debate on issues.
African Elections: How well do you think you will fare in this election?
EM: “I have already done well by being the first woman to contest in a presidential election. I hope the party retains the 2 seats it won in 2014, of which I am confident we will get those seat, and maybe more.”
African Elections: Why are Namibians not happy with SWAPO, why are people willing to vote for other parties?
EM: “Namibians are not happy with SWAPO because they can’t get basic needs and services in their communities, while SWAPO members live in luxury. Things are getting worse and people are frustrated, just look at the rise in unemployment among our youth. Health quality is going down. People can’t even afford the basics.”
African Elections: The Fishrot scandal could not have come a better time for you as opposition?
EM: That fish scandal come at the right time, It made people angry. Last year government advertised for people to apply for fish quotas. People went to the extent of hiring consultants to help them apply for the quotas. The responsible minister didn’t make announcement on those who successfully applied for quotas, yet it has been a year. It is my opinion and suspicion that SWAPO was waiting to see those who didn’t make it, so that they can reward them with fish quotas.
African Elections: Please share with us how you became NUDO party Presidential candidate.
EM: “My journey to becoming a presidential candidate was hard. There were 2 slates in the party before we went to congress to choose the next leader of our party in May 2018. I won at congress but the other side contested it in court. Our membership then advised that instead of going to the courts, why not have another congress which we did hold in March 2019. I won that election again.
In April and May were still trying to bring the party together after the congress. There was a lot of de-campaigning that took place against me from within the party.
You know people saying things like I can’t run because I am a woman or because I am a divorcee. But I prevailed.”
African Elections: Does your family support your political life?
EM: I am a divorced with 3 children – 2 boys and girl who are now grown up. I divorced in 2005, and you know how it is culturally when people shun you, but that takes a strong personally. My family is part of my support system. They ask me how do you feel about elections and if the results are out.
African Elections: What is the future of NUDO Party?
EM: “I am working hard to restore the party. When I took over the party was in the Intensive Care Unit. I want to make it more visible locally and internationally, working with partners or organisations, and have contacts outside Namibia.
We also have to build trust, and bring all the losing candidates on board. So we can strengthen the party.”