More youth registrering as voters

Stefanus Nashama

More young people are visible at the numerous registration centres in Windhoek as Namibia gets ready for the presidential and national assembly elections in November.

Speaking to the Windhoek Observer over the weekend, Marine Beukes, a registration officer at the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s (ECN) offices at Wernhill Park Mall in Windhoek, said since they started issuing the voter cards on 3 June, many young people have registered for voter cards.

“It seems that young people are serious about the upcoming elections. I have worked as a registration officer before, but I have never seen young people come such in big numbers to register as voters before,” she said.

Beukes added that while many young people used to be uninterested in participating in free and fair elections in the past, they have now realised the importance of making their voices heard when electing their leaders.

“I hear them talking while in the queue. The future is in our hands. We are tired of this situation of being only used during elections. We are going to vote and vote for change,” she added.

Beukes further highlighted that the recent South African election outcome has also motivated young people to be ready to vote for the leaders of their choice.

“In the past, only older people were observed making time to line up and register as voters and vote for leaders. I think young people were more of the view that voting was a waste of time, especially for decision-making that determines the future,” she said.

Indongo Samuel, a community leader in the Goreangab informal settlement, said young people are now open to what determines the future.

Samuel said he visited about four voter registration points in the area and has seen many young people go through the process.

“It is no secret that this year we are facing the most challenging elections, like what happened to South Africa. Seeing more young people going to register for voter cards is an indication of time changes. I believe everyone would want to be left out in this election,” Samuel said.

He also said community leaders should mobilise and encourage young people to participate in the process.

Samuel stressed that young people have learned a lesson they will not forget by not participating in elections before.

“When you see young people standing in a long queue, you should know they want to vote, he added. A young person would go and register at the last minute in the past. Some even go for a beer before joining the queue, but now you can tell they are serious. And I believe this is not only happening in Windhoek but countrywide,” he emphasised.

Moses Garueb constituency councillor, Stefanus Ndengu said that since the registration process began, he has visited many centres in the constituency, but young people are more active than elders.

“I think young people now understand that voting for leaders is important. In the past, older people used to pitch up in large numbers, but now I see young people are the ones at the centre. This time, it is going to be different compared to the past,” he said.

Ndengu added that the majority of Windhoek’s population is young, which also influences turnout.

Recently, political and traditional authority leaders urged young people to go out in large numbers and participate in the registration process.

This includes President Nangolo Mbumba, the leader of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), Panduleni Itula, and the Queen of Oukwanyama, Martha Nelumbu, among others.

According to ECN spokesperson De Wet Siluka, the commission will release statistics on the number of people who registered for voter cards.

“It is premature for me to tell the number of people registered at this point. Give us time to get that update. We will release the figures per centre,” he said.

In an attempt to observe other parts of the country, like Kavango East, governor Bonifatius Wakudumo said he would visit the registration centres in the region to observe the turnout of young people.

“I have been in and out of the region. You caught me off guard, but our encouragement is to mobilise the youth to go out in large numbers and register for the voting cards,” he said.

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