How Udf Got Daures Back From Swapo

01 Dec 2015 13:00pm
(Nampa Features Service)

By Paulus Shiku
OKOMBAHE, 01 DEC (NAMPA) - The tiny settlement of Okombahe bursts into festive mood as joyful United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters celebrate their election victory.
It is a sea of Green, Blue and White as UDF supporters proudly don the party’s colours, singing and dancing in wild celebration.
Okombahe, a traditional stronghold of the UDF, has reason to celebrate - the party has just won back its electoral baby, the Daures Constituency in the Erongo Region.
The party emerged victorious after defeating the ruling Swapo party in the Regional Council election for the hotly-contested Daures Constituency.
Gathered a stone’s throw away were Swapo supporters, with disappointment clearly written all over their faces. Their candidate, Ehrnst Katjiku, who is the previous councillor, lost out to UDF’s Joram Kennedy !Haoseb.
!Hoaseb snatched the constituency from his political opponent Katjiku with 1 589 votes compared to Katjiku’s recorded 1 390, marking a difference of 199 votes.
Daures was a UDF stronghold since Independence in 1990 during the 2010 Regional Council Election, when Swapo, through Katjiku made history by taking 1 394 votes - just 23 votes more than those of UDF candidate Apius Auchab, who got 1 371 votes.
A male employee at Katjiku’s Daures Constituency office, seemingly a Swapo supporter, shared his disappointment in the outcome of the results with Nampa.
“I am hurt. I don't even know what to do. I was so used to Councillor Katjiku now I have a new boss,” he said.
A relieved UDF president Auchab, who was a Daures Constituency councillor before Swapo took over some five years ago, is seen chatting on the phone while parked under a tree, most probably sharing the good news with his comrades.
Auchab is the same man who went on national television the day before the elections and proudly predicted that his party will take back Daures.
“We played our cards close to our chests so that people would not know our game. This paid off. You know with Swapo, you cannot take chances. Swapo’s victory in 2010 was a once-off mistake never to be repeated.
“My people have been asking I’m coming back. I said since I am in Parliament, I will choose a tested cadre such as !Haoseb for them. That is what we did and we won,” he said.
He further explains that the fact that he chose !Haoseb earned them votes because supporters wanted either himself or a candidate of his choice to stand for election.
The question Swapo supporters have been asking themselves is: where did their party go wrong? Veteran political reporter, Willie Olivier said Swapo might not have performed to the expectations of the Daures residents, which could have cost them votes.
“Fielding the same candidate could also be a problem, as people might stop voting for a candidate who did not perform even if they are loyal to a party,” he said.
Olivier said tribal politics might have played a role as some UDF supporters might have decided to vote for a person that is closer to them.
He stated that split votes could have also led to Swapo losing, where people who were supposed to vote for them voted for National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo)’s Manfred Rukoro who got 619; and DTA of Namibia’s Duludi Ndjiharine with 123 votes.
Awebahe Hoeseb, a political commentator however disagreed with the notion of tribal politics and instead pins UDF’s performance on the quality of candidates it fielded.
“It is about UDF choosing the right candidate. !Haoseb is a people's person - he could have won with any party,” Hoeseb said.
!Haoseb, a full-time communal farmer said he will start renovating depilated schools in the constituency and introduce awards for farmers and hard-working public servants.
“We will also introduce trade fairs in our constituency and fight alcohol abuse. We want our people to be fully involved in tourism businesses,” he noted.
He also promised to support small-scale miners of gemstones to penetrate bigger markets.
“I was born in Daures and I know the needs of our people, so I will start off with tours to introduce my projects and get input,” he said.
Katjiku, on the other hand, is adamant that tribal politics and split votes helped UDF to win.
He maintained that Swapo “delivered beyond the expectations of the residents” and that he always communicated with the community.
Katjiku referred to projects such as campsites, sewerage systems, toilets, equipment support to small-scale minors, re-gravelling of roads and the olive plantation project in Okombahe.
“As a party, we will not give up. We are scanning the situation so that we can come back strong next time. I might not come back as a candidate again, but the party will introduce someone equally capable,” he told Nampa.
Swapo coordinator in the Erongo Region, Philipus Heita congratulated UDF but warned them that it is only a matter of five years before Swapo beats them again.
“It is like boxing, we beat them last time and they beat us now,” Heita said.
He said the elections were free and fair, hence he accepts defeat.
Swapo is now in for a long five years of waiting until the next election to put in another fight over dominion of the Daures Constituency.
There is however no guarantee that UDF will let go of Daures, considering the effort the party put into winning back the constituency.
The new regional councillors are expected to be sworn in this week.