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Wednesday 11 December 2019
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Geingob and Itula neck to neck in early polls

By Rumbidzai Ngindi/Megameno Shikwambi

Early polls which trickled in this week from within Namibia and outside the borders show a neck-to-neck race between independent candidate Panduleni Itula and incumbent President Hage Geingob.
Itula has become Swapo’s thorn in the flesh as he runs on the message of sweeping malcontents out of the party while commandeering the support of the “anti-establishment”.
The Swapo party, which has on record stated that Itula had excommunicated himself is seeking a final term for Geingob to complete his Harambee vision and maintain peace, stability and prosperity. The Patriot spoke to various analysts who aired their views on the latest poll results which have also seen opposition parties dismally trailing behind.

Swapo must be worried- HOZE RIRUAKO
TP: What do you make of the latest poll results from abroad so far?
HR: To be honest, I said it before as an analyst that the only party that can dissolve Swapo powerbase is Swapo itself, meaning that when Swapo is split that is when Swapo support base will be divided. As we are going by the first polls, we are seeing from the people who are voting from abroad and elsewhere that this is quite a surprise. The independent candidate in some areas is completely out-performing the President.  One would want to see how the voters will do inside the country. But, if there is anything to go by, basing from what we have now, the picture does not look good at all. What else can you use as the basis to predict the overall performance of the people within the country? We can only use that base when the votes are coming in and it`s worrisome for Swapo party and for the president.

TP: Can this be a reflection of what is yet to come? Do you see this pattern continuing?
HR: That will be very subjective because when we are talking about people from abroad we are not talking about the entire masses. There are many dynamics at play. What we are seeing now should be completely concerning to Swapo.

TP: Will it likely be a two horse race between Swapo and Panduleni Itula (Independent Candidate) to the very end?
HR: I think PDM will still be a factor in this election. When something is new and promises you heaven and earth, I think it won`t be surprising to see Itula performing like other opposition parties or slightly beyond that.
I think Itula will reduce the percentage support for Swapo, but I still think the current president will remain victorious.

TP: What impact do these results have on the campaign trail for Itula, Swapo and the opposition parties?
HR: It will confuse people and the undecided voters within Swapo will start to think that maybe they were not sure about this Itula. If Swapo is to be blamed, Itula is equally to be blamed because both come from the same political party.

TP: What could be drawing votes to Itula?
HR: Itula has managed to steal the agenda of the minority who feel left out, who feel they have no access to land and he is using it to campaign, yet he is equally to blame as much as Hage.
He is appealing to the youth and the poor. It could be something that he could bring change and some think that he can do things differently than the current situation under the current president and the previous dispensation under Pohamba. Support for Itula could be within Swapo itself.

A competitive election going forward- Frederico Links

TP: What do you make of the latest poll results from abroad so far?
FL: It`s very interesting that the independent candidate is running so close. It makes things interesting over the next two weeks, highly interesting to see.
I don’t think we faced this situation before where early indications are showing a close run race.
It should make things more competitive going forward. Can this be a reflection of what is yet to come? Do you see this pattern continuing?
FL: I am hesitant to say that it’s a reflection. We have had challenges in the past where RDP got ahead in 2009 elections and come election days things were different. Of course, conditions are different now.
There are so many factors at play and so on. We shouldn’t read too much, that would be my advice.
At the very least I expect the results to influence the campaign going forward.
I do expect that to happen over the next two weeks but whether it will actually influence or be reflective of the 27th of November, that I am not going to speculate on.

TP: Will it likely be a two horse race between Swapo Presidential candidate and Panduleni Itula (Independent Candidate)?
FL: That’s what the current indications are, but when we get into the general election, I think other candidates will start picking up votes. Some have not been campaigning visibly.

TP: What impact do these results have on the campaign trail for Itula, Swapo and the opposition parties?
FL: If I were them, I would look at this as a potential guide and go out there and drive my campaign hard, that’s what I will do.
If it were me, I would use these results to campaign hard, I would use the results as the benchmark if you think you are falling especially those like Venaani and others …who aren’t performing very well on the special voting days. I would expect them to go out there and go hard in the next two weeks.
Look what the early figures are saying, especially in the likes of LPM who have positioned themselves as popular and made pronouncements about Hage. These figures should flag how they could end up.
TP: What could be drawing votes to Itula?
FL: I think they are economic conditions. I think he is trying to capitalise on the youth vote, everybody is trying to capitalise on the youth vote. This is the time for the youth and so on. He is feeding on unemployment, economic conditions, corruption, mismanagement of state resources, Swapo not having overcome staggering poverty and so on. Then the drought conditions and how the government hasn`t exactly been performing well on that score.
So there are many factors that are feeding into this.
Also, a lot of people are feeling left out and seeking a new political home and a voice that can speak for them. That is certainly a player.
Once again, we can`t go by what we see on social media, because not all Namibians are on social media but it can be indicative of a possible thinking out there especially amongst the youth.
WhatsApp campaigns are being mobilised especially in the North which is a bedrock of Swapo and there is considerable support for him (Itula). Once again it`s something that has to be proven at the ballot box. We will know after 27 November. I think they are busy doing a lot of door to door campaigns.  But I haven’t seen any big rally in the North so we haven’t seen how big a crowd he can pull, may be that is yet to come.
If he would get a rally with a considerable number of people, I think this would shake the ruling party especially in the bedrock support areas that they always count on that they can take for granted.




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