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Namibia held both Presidential and parliamentary elections on 28th November 2014.  In the 2014 elections, a total of 1,241,194 people were on the Voter’s Register making them eligible to vote in the General Election, at any of the 3,966 polling stations (2,586 were mobile).[[1]]  The last elections were in 2009.

Presidential Elections

The Presidential Election received a total of 890,738 votes, representing roughly a 70% voter turnout, and included 9 Presidential candidates, none of which were women.[[2]]  The election was won by Hage Gottfried Geingob, leader of the SWAPO Party of Namibia, which has won every election since independence in 1990.[[3]]  He received a total of 772,528 votes.  A Presidential term lasts for 5 years, and a candidate can only serve a maximum of two terms under the country’s Constitution.  In order for a candidate to win the election, the constitution states that ‘he or she must obtain more than 50% of valid votes cast.’[[4]]

Parliamentary Elections

The National Assembly Election received a total of 893,643 votes, with the quota being 9,308.[[5]]  A total of 16 political parties were involved, with SWAPO Party of Namibia receiving 715,026 votes.  In order to incorporate new rules relating to gender equality in the National Assembly, SWAPO increased the number of seats from 78 in the 2009 election, to 96.[[6]]  SWAPO’s 2014 votes equated to 77 seats.[7]  The voting system used is List Proportional Representation (List PR), where the number of seats a party receives is in proportion to the total number of votes they received.[[8]]   

Women’s Political Participation.

Women’s presence in governments is considered an important indicator of equal representation and participation not only for better democratic governance but also within the broader discourse around gender equality.

Namibia’s introduction of a gender equality quota rules shows promise for promoting women’s political participation within the country.  SWAPO itself ‘committed to filling half of its seats in parliament with women, but also committed to what they call a “zebra system”, whereby if a minister is a woman, the deputy minister will be a man, and vice versa.’[[9]]  This revolutionary approach to gender equality in politics is very promising, although we shall await to see the complete breakdown of elected Members of Parliament in order to ascertain whether the quota has been fulfilled.  In order to avoid any possible opposition, SWAPO increased the number of National Assembly seats to 96 in order to avoid 11 male members losing their seats to women and therefore risking the implementation of the ‘zebra’ policy.[[10]]  It could be argued that by protecting the 11 male members’ seats, it actually negates some of the positive impact of the policy.  In addition, these policies are voluntary; the only legal quota in place is at the sub-national level, such as in local authority elections.[[11]]

 

Women Representation Statistics

   

Women Political Representation

As of 2009

As of 2014

Female Members of Parliament

19/78 (24%)

N/A

 

 Conclusion

Although we are awaiting the complete results of female political participation in the recent elections, the fact that 0/9 Presidential candidates were women highlights the continued struggle women face with entering politics in Namibia. Despite SWAPO having a gender equality quota, more needs to be done to achieve greater women representation. For women’s political participation and empowerment to be firmly reinforced in the country, proper application of the ‘zebra’ policy and quotas must be met, in addition to continued efforts to alter perceptions of women’s capabilities within politics.  Legally enforceable quotas would also carry more weight than voluntary policies.



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