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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 18:45 GMT
Namibia elections fail to ignite interest
By Frauke Jensen
BBC correspondent in Windhoek

In Namibia, the summer heat seems to be taking its toll on two million odd citizens, who will be voting for a new president and parliament on 15 and 16 November.

Swapo poster
Despite the presence of active opposition parties, Swapo is strong

With only three days to go until polls open, dreary looking election posters haphazardly pinned onto lamp posts, rubbish bins and the odd car reflect the general mood of apathetic resignation among Namibians, most of whom seem to care little about election manifestos.

Many are either reluctant to go and vote or have already reconciled themselves to the fact that the ruling party, Swapo will once again be victorious and that the party's presidential candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba will be the country's next president.

Landslide victory

"Why should I go and vote? I have voted since independence and I still have nothing," a farm worker told me.

"Well, I should go and vote, but I don't think my vote will really make a difference," says a farmer, who received a letter six months ago requesting him to offer his farm to the government.

Swapo presidential candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba
Don't waste your vote on parties, who have done nothing for you since independence
Hifikepunye Pohamba

This follows the announcement that a number of farms would be expropriated to speed up the process of land reform.

"I'm going to vote, but I mean, it's clear who will win," says a businessman in the capital, Windhoek - where the parties are hoping to make inroads with their last rallies on Saturday.

Swapo can confidently expect to once again record a landslide victory.

After all, its government has been able to maintain peace and stability in Namibia since independence in 1990.

It has put emphasis on promoting the role of women in society, has maintained freedom of expression and has made inroads in areas such as education, rural water supply and infrastructure development.

And while the opposition parties denounce corruption, rising crime and increasing unemployment, they have little to offer in terms of real alternatives to a population that has not really embraced democratic principles as yet.

Hand-picked

The main opposition parties like the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance and the Congress of Democrats are hoping to strengthen their voter base, but acknowledge that they have little chance of stealing major votes from Swapo.

Sam Nujoma, Namibia's outgoing president
The outgoing president is regarded as the father of the nation
"We're waiting for the next five years," one opposition candidate tells me.

With President Sam Nujoma's era ending, parties which make it through these polls see their first real chance at offering alternatives to those who have hitherto patriotically voted for the "father of the nation" and the movement that brought independence.

But a confident Mr Pohamba tells his followers: "Don't waste your vote on parties, who have done nothing for you since independence."

Hand-picked by outgoing President Nujoma - his close friend and long-time Swapo ally - the 69-year-old is expected to maintain the status quo and continue ruling the country along the lines of his predecessor.





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