Namibia’s Geingob Wins Vote in Swapo’s Worst-Performance Yet

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(Bloomberg) -- Namibian President Hage Geingob won a second term despite the worst-performance yet for his South West Africa People’s Organization as a stuttering economy curbed support for the ruling party.

Geingob secured 56.3% of the presidential votes, compared with 87% in 2014, according to Notemba Tjipueja, the chairwoman of the Electoral Commission. His Swapo party, which has governed Namibia for almost 30 years, got 65.5% of the parliamentary vote, she said, down from 80% five years ago.

“The competition was tough, there is a winner and a loser, but in this case democracy was the biggest winner,” the president said after the results were announced. “This was a really contested competition, it was peaceful and I am glad. I got 56% and I have to accept it.”

A chronic drought sent Namibia’s economy into a downturn in 2016 and the International Monetary Fund expects a third consecutive annual contraction this year. The government has increased borrowing to offset a slowdown in revenue in a country where more than 10% of the population of 2.6 million live in abject poverty. Unemployment is rampant, and more than 700,000 people are in need of food aid.

Geingob’s strongest challenger, independent candidate Panduleni Itula, got 29.2% of the votes, while the Popular Democratic Movement candidate McHenry Venaani had 5.3%. His PDM party, the main opposition, won 16.6% of the parliamentary ballot, the electoral commission said.

“This is an indication that politics is changing in Namibia, a new era has broken,” said independent political analyst Nico Horn. “People are so eager for change. Geingob is paying the price for the economic situation, the unemployment issue and everything else that is happening.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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