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Namibia: Few Young Voters Show Up for Registration – ECN

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Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) spokesperson Mulauli Siluka announced yesterday that only 118 697 young people were registered out of 366 036 registrations in total from 3 to 15 June.

Siluka said the ECN has done enough to expedite the general voter registration process.

“We have invested public resources to make sure there is information and voters know what the requirements are for the registration,” he said.

He said young people cannot use a slow registration process as an excuse because a lot of registration points are empty.

“The commission has identified points where the young people are. Most of the points are at schools. In Windhoek for example, we have registration points at almost all the university campuses, including the University of Namibia main campus, International University of Management Dorado campus, Namibia University of Science and Technology, and others.”

He said most of these points are empty and receive only one or two people per day. “They are really just not interested, they do not want to exercise their civic duties.”

Siluka claims the registration process is short and efficient and the commission is satisfied. However, he admitted that for people who still use old identity documents, the process can be lengthy because they have to capture biometrics and ensure authenticity.

He said the commission has appointed youth ambassadors to go to social places to talk to the youth but the ECN still has to up its game in this respect.

CONCERNING

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah yesterday said the low turnout of young people for voter registration is concerning.

“Young people bring fresh perspectives and can influence policy directions that address their needs and aspirations. Voting is an essential part of developing a sense of civic responsibility,” he said.

Kamwanyah said low participation will lead to continued disengagement in future elections and civic activities: “If young people don’t vote, their interests might be underrepresented in government decisions, leading to policies that do not address their specific needs, such as education, employment, and social issues.”

Kamwanyah said the fact that young people make up 71% of the Namibian population means their low turnout can significantly skew election results.

“Elected officials may focus on the concerns of the demographics that are more likely to vote, which could result in less attention to youth-oriented policies.”

The ECN and political parties should run targeted campaigns highlighting the importance of voting and how it impacts young people’s futures, he said: “Partnering with schools, universities and youth organisations to educate young people about the electoral process and their role in democracy. Utilising platforms popular among youth to spread information about voter registration and election dates.”

Kamwanyah suggested utilising online platforms and mobile registration units can help increase accessibility.

PROCESS YOUTH UNFRIENDLY

Swapo central committee member Willem Amutenya said the low turnout of young people does not mean they are not interested in the election process, but rather that the registration process is not youth friendly.Amutenya said the ECN should increase and establish registration points closer to youth-oriented centres in towns and rural areas, including recreation centres.

Namibia Institute of Democracy (NID) spokesperson Ginola Nauseb said young people need to be democratically active.

He called for a collaborative effort from all stakeholders to improve the turnout. “Young people feel there is no change and they feel they are excluded economically. We need to do more and make sure that 71% of Namibia, which is young people, is represented,” Nauseb said,

Meanwhile, Siluka said the ECN faces challenges in the Kunene region, where people migrate with their livestock in search of grazing due to the drought, with only 17 903 voters registered over the past three weeks.

Yesterday, the ECN announced it has registered 536 202 eligible voters in the country and at diplomatic missions abroad to date.

By Namibian.

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