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Regions meet ECN voter registration targets

Mon, 3 March 2014 02:58
by Innocentia Gaoes

Over half of the country’s 14 regions have met their targets for the general voter registration as the over one million estimated Namibians from the approximately 1.3 million who are over 18 years, according to the 2011 census, registered throughout the regions.
The general voters registration (GVR) started on the 15th of January and ended yesterday.
According to official statistics released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) late last week, a total of 974 545 Namibians had already registered by 22nd February. Khomas was the leading region in the number of voters registered with 164 027, followed by Omusati with 113 526 and Ohangwena with 107 368. The Omaheke Region reported the lowest voters registered with 32 790 as of 22nd February.
Khomas Region saw a high number of voters turning up at the three big constituencies - the Tobias Hainyeko, Moses //Garoeb and Samora Marchel - yesterday. Regional co-ordinator, Hendrick van Wyk, said he is certain Khomas will record the highest number of eligible voters registered once the official results are released by the ECN.
In the Kunene Region, the general voter registration was successful, as its target was 45 000 but midway through yesterday, the region had already registered more than 46 000 eligible voters.
“Numbers are coming in. Long queues are visible, especially in the Opuwo urban constituency and all the registration points around the Outjo Constituency are very busy,” said the regional co-ordinator for the Kunene Region, Ismael Ouseb.
Ouseb further said the success of the whole process in the region was because of the engagement and support of all the stakeholders; ECN, political parties, voter registration officers and the public.
In the Hardap Region, the process went well, with long queues visible both in Mariental and Rehoboth throughout the period under review. The registration points in both Rehoboth and Mariental got an extra kit at the venues where there were initially only single kits. This was to help speed up the process as yesterday was busy.
Although Hardap regional co-ordinator, Isaack Witbooi, could not tell by midday yesterday how many people had registered as the mobile teams were out in the rural areas, making it difficult for them to register the figures, he was proud to say they had registered over 80% of their 47 000 target.
“According to the ECN statistics, the region has about 47 000 eligible voters and currently there is an estimate of over 40 000 registered voters, which is more than 80% of the potential voters,” said Witbooi, adding, “I applaud the voter registration team of ECN for a job well done and their patience with those who approached the registration poles to register”.
Karas was no different from the rest of the successful regions, as all the points in Keetmanshoop were busy, with over 42 800 registered by midday yesterday.
The region has about 76 000 residents and the regional co-ordinator believes they registered over 80% of the eligible voters. “The day is very busy, I do not know whether or not we will finalise the process by seven o’clock tonight, as we are expecting more people. However, we are satisfied with the outcome,” added Augustinus Ucham.
Otjozondjupa Region also recorded success in the GVR, as 76 000 eligible voters had already registered by midday yesterday out of the approximated 82 000 eligible voters.
“There have been long queues since yesterday (Saturday) but we will finish registering everyone today,” said the regional co-ordinator, Friedrich Rugharo.
Rugharo also said they called back mobile teams to the registration venues where there were long queues and applauded the residents of his region for their patience throughout the process.
“Even the elderly stood patiently in the long queues to register,” said Rugharo, further thanking all those who were involved in the GVR process from the beginning.
In some regions, the electronic voting machines would break down and slow down the process the busier the registration points became. However, the regional co-ordinators remained optimistic the process would end on a positive note.
The main challenges in the GVR were experienced during the first week of the process where some of the machines were faulty. This slowed down the process. After the first week, however, everything went as planned and the ECN staff also got hold of the new electronic registration machines.
Other challenges included most of the rural residents not having national documents. In the Otjozondjupa Region, a number of farm workers did not have identity documents while some farmers did not allow the ECN teams to enter their farms to have the workers registered.
The GVR ended yesterday but the supplementary dates will be announced by ECN, to assist those who missed the first phase, such as those who were under the age of 18 by the end of the first phase.