Namibia: Regional Council and Local Authority Elections in 1992

Extracted from: "Namibia" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 260-262.

The Local Authority Act (Act 23 of 1992), the Regional Council Act (Act 22 of 1992) and the Electoral Act (Act 24 of 1992) paved the way for the first local authority and regional council elections after independence.

The elections were based on the recommendations by the First Delimitation Commission (1991) which was tasked to subdivide Namibia into regions and constituencies and to determine the border lines of local authority areas. The Delimitation Commission consisted of Judge President GJC Strydom (chairperson), Prof GKH Tötemeyer and Mr M Shipanga. The Delimitation Report was accepted and approved by the National Assembly in 1992.

General registration of voters took place from 21 September to 27 October 1992. Prospective voters in local authority areas had to register for both the local authority and regional council elections. Registration officials were given the strict instruction that contrary to the 1989 elections, only residing Namibian citizens could register. The registration process was hampered by the many Namibians not in possession of the required identity documents. Providing proof of one year's residence in a local authority areas, as prescribed by law, to qualify as a voter at local level, also caused problems. Sworn statements as an alternative was not the best solution. Thirt-three mobile registration teams were appointed, consisting of six officials each to cover all thirteen regions.

The task of the Directorate of Elections as the implementing agency of the Electoral Commission was to compile separate voters lists for local authority elections and regional council elections. Voters with a regional voters card were entitled to use the same during the 1994 National Assembly and presidential elections to cast their vote. The voters lists were distributed to all parties, organisations and associations participating in the elections for any complaints. Any voter had the right to object to any names thereon. Only a few complaints were lodged but turned down by the respective magistrates.

The UDF and NPF were not satisfied with the length of the registration process and took the matter to the High Court. It was considered too short. The application was dismissed with costs by the High Court on 18 November 1992.

The final voters register for regional council elections contained 534 437 names, representing nearly 80% of the estimated members of eligible voters in Namibia. Altogether 156 795 people registered for the local authority elections.

3 November 1992 was set as nomination date for prospective candidates in regional constituencies and for the submissions of nomination lists for the local authority elections. All participating parties were obliged to register with the Electoral Commission before nomination day. They had to comply with legally laid down rules such as submitting a constitution which must not discriminate against ethnic groups, race, colour, creed and gender, the names of a constituted executive and the names, addresses and signatures of 500 registered voters in the case of political parties and 250 registered voters in the case of organisations and associations. Parties had to deposit with the Receiver of Revenue N$5000 and associations and organisations N$500 before they could register.

The closing date for political parties registration was 26 October 1996. The following parties were registered: DTA of Namibia, National Patriotic Front, SWANU of Namibia, SWAPO Party of Namibia, United Democratic Front of Namibia, and Workers Revolutionary Party. Also registered were the Local Community Associations in Windhoek and Mariental and the Swakopmund Residents' Association.

Altogether 210 candidates were nominated in the 95 regional constituencies, and 996 candidates on party lists for the 51 local authority areas. Fifteen regional constituencies were uncontested. Five independent candidates were nominated for regional constituencies. Political groups were obliged by law to nominate two female candidates in local authority areas with ten or fewer councillors, and at least three in local authority areas with eleven or more members.

The elections were conducted during a period of four days, from 30 November to 3 December 1992. Regional council and local authority elections were held simultaneously. The election process went smoothly with little hiccups.

The voter turnout was satisfactory. On 4 and 5 December, two days after the elections, the election results were officially announced. In the contested constituencies 381 041 (81.07%) out of 470 006 registered voters had cast their vote. Only 7 584 (2%) votes were rejected. SWAPO Party candidates were successful in 71 constituencies, the DTA in 21 constituencies and the UDF in 3. SWAPO Party won outright in ten regions and the DTA in three.

Altogether 82.33% of the registered voters cast their vote during the local authority elections and 1.46% of the votes were rejected. SWAPO Party obtained 58% of the vote (199 local authority councillors throughout the country), DTA, 33.27% (138 councillors), UDF, 5.88% (23 councillors), SWANU, 1.49% (1 councillor), Local Associations, 1.19% (1 councillor), the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) 0.09% (no councillor), and the NPF 0.06% (no councillor). Outright majorities were won by SWAPO Party in 32 local authority areas. The DTA was successful in eleven and the UDF in two local authority areas.

The 1992 elections were the first elections conducted by Namibians without outside assistance. The total expenditure amounted to N$12 851 513, covering both the registration and electoral process. The elections were funded by the Central Government. Altogether N$3 136 087 was donated by foreign agencies for material expenses, voter education and information, and for the purpose of training returning officers.

A number of by-elections preceded the next round of elections in 1994. The reintegration of the enclave Walvis Bay into Namibia on 1 March 1994 paved the way for local authority elections. SWAPO Party won the election by a wide margin: eight seats against two by the DTA.

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