by Ndalimpinga Iita
WINDHOEK, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Wearing masks, voters kept a safe distance in queues patiently waiting for their turn to vote at a polling station in the Namibian capital Windhoek on Wednesday.
Namibians across the country went to the polls for the regional council and local authority areas elections on Wednesday, which have been conducted every five years.
Elly Kaunapawa from Windhoek woke up early to join the queue. Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. local time and will close at 9 p.m.
"I decided to cast my vote because it has the power in influencing the type of leader and a political party to advance development in our area at constituency level," Kaunapawa said.
A total of 503 candidates including 92 independent candidates from 18 political parties and 13 associations are contesting in the 2020 regional council and local authority elections, according to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).
The ongoing elections have also ushered first-time voters into the democratic decision process.
Selma Shilongo cast her vote earlier in the day. "I know a lot of progress has been achieved. However, more challenges need to be addressed. I voted for the candidate who I believe has the passion for driving change," Shilongo said.
Theo Mujoro, the chief electoral officer of the ECN, said that all 4,102 polling points across the country adhered to strict preventative measures to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as per National COVID-19 Regulations.
The voters shared their experience in exercising their democratic right amid COVID-19.
"I am pleased with the observance of precautionary measures. The presiding officer sanitised all voters and ensured that voters and polling officials wore their masks and kept a safe distance, which puts voters at ease," said Phil Nangonya, who cast his vote in Windhoek.
In the interim, experts said that the regional councils and local authority elections are crucial to the country's governance system.
"The elected leadership through these elections are a conduit between the citizens and central government and have a direct impact of the delivery of services at the grassroots level," said Sindiso Moyo, an assistant lecturer at the University of Namibia.
The ECN has registered a total number of 1,408,670 eligible voters for regional council elections and 451,870 voters for the local authority elections. Enditem