THE battle for the hearts and minds of the potential voters in the Ondangwa Urban by-election went into high gear on Saturday with the participating political parties either increasing their visibility on the street or holding rallies addressed by senior leaders from Windhoek.
A group of members and supporters of the All People’s Party (APP) spent the better part of Saturday afternoon marching in the town’s streets singing and shouting slogans and also interacting with some curious onlookers urging them to vote for APP candidate Asser Vincent come next month.
At the same time, the president of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) McHenry Venaani addressed a rally in the Ondjondjo suburb of Ondangwa where the party’s candidate Johannes Martin was officially introduced to the potential voters.
Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa was also at Ondangwa on Saturday where she addressed a rally in the Uupopo location and introduced former mayor Leonard Negonga as the ruling party’s candidate.
It became clear that Swapo and the PDM hold diametrically opposed views on why voters should opt for their respective candidates.
“Even if you do not like Negonga, you like Swapo and Negonga is the Swapo candidate. Do not let your party down, the party of your ancestors,” she said.
However, the message at the PDM rally on the other side of the town was that the by-election is not about political parties but rather about individual candidates.
“We are constantly told that the ruling party candidate is a tested cadre … yes, we tasted him when he was mayor and we know that he is not tasty, he is bitter. That is why no one should vote for him,” said PDM candidate Johannes Martin, who is also PDM’s sole candidate in the Ondangwa local authority.
The Congress of Democrats (CoD) is also participating in the by-election and has fielded Andreas Mandume as candidate.
The by-election follows after former Ondangwa Urban councillor Elia Irimari was appointed earlier this year as governor of Oshana replacing long-serving governor Clemens Kashuupulwa who became Namibia’s ambassador to the Russian Federation.