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Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters gain two parliamentary seats

The EFF in South Africa released a statement congratulating its Namibian namesake, saying they did it without their assistance.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have issued a statement congratulating a party it describes as its “direct ideological offspring”, the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), for gaining two seats in the Namibian National Assembly.

The South African party clearly approves of its Namibian namesake, which was established in 2014, saying in the statement that “despite difficulties, it has been waging anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles for economic freedom in our lifetime”.

A 2014 video on One Africa TV, however, suggests that the NEFF distanced themselves from the EFF, saying it had no affiliation to the party after reports suggested the two were in cahoots.

The EFF made it clear in the statement that the NEFF did not benefit from funding from its progenitor, saying it was “inspiring” that the NEFF obtained its two seats “without reliance on external assistance, not even from the EFF in South Africa”.

Elsewhere in the statement, it did say it provided “political and ideological support”, adding that it would continue to do so for “all progressive forces on the continent”.

The party suggested that it would be happy for other African countries – or even ones in the African diaspora – to start up their own version of the EFF, as long as they functioned independently.

“This is what should define all organisations and political formations in the continent and diaspora that define themselves as Economic Freedom Fighters”.

The party’s manifesto wants the dissolving of African borders and the creation of a united Africa.

In the statement, it adds it’s “no secret” that it wants to create a “continent-wide economic emancipation movement”.

“The Pan Africanist character of the EFF is veritably emboldened by the NEFF’s election into parliament.”

Namibia’s president secures second term

Namibian President Hage Geingob on Saturday won the country’s presidential elections with a diminished majority of 56.3%, the worst performance of any ruling party candidate for nearly 30 years.

Geingob was declared president of this week’s vote, retaining his position and the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation’s (SWAPO) long dominance of power, despite a recession and a corruption scandal that has fuelled popular discontent.

SWAPO presidents have traditionally won by over 70% in presidential elections since the country’s independence in 1990.

Geingob, 78, and his liberation party movement SWAPO both lost support compared to the previous national elections in the vast desert nation in southwest Africa, where he claimed a sweeping 87% in the 2014 election.

Accepting the results, Geingob said there was always one winner in elections but that “democracy was the biggest winner”.

“It was peaceful and tough,” he said.

His strongest challenger, independent candidate Panduleni Itula, won 30% of the vote, while the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate McHenry Venaani bagged 5.3%.

Itula, the country’s first presidential independent candidate, won in key economic urban areas such the capital Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund at the coast.

Itula is popular among the country’s youth, nearly half of whom are unemployed and have grown frustrated with the regime.

“He (Itula) has acted as a lightning rod for frustrations and for people that are unhappy with the president,” said Graham Hopwood of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Namibia’s main think-tank.

Out of 11 presidential candidates, only two, including Geingob, was present at the election announcement event, a clear sign of protest from opposition, who have alleged electoral fraud.

The electoral commission announced SWAPO won 65% of the national assembly seats, down from 80% – losing its two-third majority in parliament.

The PDM, formerly the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), increased its national assembly party representation from 4.8% to 16.55%, securing 16 seats, according to the electoral commission.

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM), a new political party that is tapping into people’s frustrations over a lack of access to land, came third with 4.9% which earned them four seats.

Around 1.3 million people out of Namibia’s 2.45 million inhabitants were registered to vote. Half are younger than 37 and many were born after independence.

Statistics from the electoral commission show that more than 800,000 people voted in the presidential elections, a 60% voter turn-out.

The latest results come at a time of economic hardship and a 150 million Namibian-dollar (US$10 million) fishing corruption scandal that has led to the resignation and arrest of two top politicians – Minister of Fisheries Bernhard Esau and Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala. The two are currently detained, pending their bail application on Monday.

Namibia’s president has also come under fire since he became the head of state five years ago with some voters accusing him of pumping money into bloated administration and granting contracts to foreign companies rather than boosting the local economy which has been in a recession since 2016.

The election was “generally peaceful, well organised and conducted in a professional manner,” the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc said Friday.

Commonwealth observers echoed that assessment and said the polls were “carried out in a largely peaceful and orderly manner”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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