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By: Valeria Handobe

Owner of Survey Warehouse Christie Keulder says that young Namibians are distancing themselves from political parties, with many stating that they no longer feel close to any party.

This follows a survey conducted by Afrobarometer in March this year, which revealed that only 56% of young people voted during the 2019 national election.

Afrobarometer is a pan-African non-partisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, institutions and economy.

Speaking to NewsOnOne, Keulder, who is the National Investigator for Afrobarometer in Namibia, said that young people aged 18 to 35, are distancing themselves from political parties and this sense of disconnection is a key factor influencing voter turnout.

“As many of them say, they don’t feel close to a political party anymore. And these are, of course, sort of important features, because we know that one of the big predictors of whether somebody will come and vote, or even for that matter register to vote, is determined whether they feel close to a political party. So, those groups that do not feel close to parties often stay away from voting. And in this case, one might be able to interpret that as a kind of a protest against the political parties, who do not seem to have a strategy for building bridges to the youth,” stated Keulder.

University of Namibia lecturer and local political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah agreed with Keulder’s assessment, but added that this trend does not necessarily indicate political disinterest, but rather a preference for independent candidates and new political formations.

Kamanyah linked this trend to a number of things, such as corruption among traditional parties, high unemployment rates, and dissatisfaction with poor service delivery.

Kamanyah raised concern that young people may be voting out of frustration and need for change rather than carefully evaluating the abilities and ethical standing of the candidates they are supporting.

He emphasised the need to involve young people in political decision-making processes, stating that they are the future and must be given the power to shape it.

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