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Namibia: The role of new media in 2009 elections

Namibia's presidential and national assembly elections took place on 27–28 November 2009. Fourteen political parties participated in the elections. The ruling party, the South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) is expected to win. Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) is SWAPO's main challenger.

Political parties and non-governmental organisations used a number of social media tools to campaign, monitor and report on Namibia Elections 2009.

The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) used Ushahidi to monitor the elections. Ushahidi, which means testimony in Kiswahili, was a tool created in the aftermath of disputed Kenya's elections in 2007. Ushahidi collected eyewitness reports of violence placed them on a map.

NSHR used Ushahidi to collect reports about fraud, undue influence, intimidation, violence, etc. Reports were sent in three ways: SMS, email and filling a form on the website.

Pre-election violence reported on Ushahidi:

Last Friday evening between 20hoo and 21hoo in Eveline Street in the Goreangab suburb of Windhoek, fighting started between a group of 15 Swapo party and 7 RDP supporters after the former singing ‘We are Nujoma's soldiers’ removed a RDP poster from a municipal light pole. Members of the Wanaheda Police precinct rapidly intervened and no further incident occured that evening.

The African Elections Project uses new media to monitor and report on elections in African countries. The project set up a Namibia page, a blog and Twitter page to keep track of elections news and results.

From African Elections Twitter page:

This is day 3 of verification process, The Electoral Commission has received 40% of results and 30% have been verified #namibiaelections2009
about 12 hours ago from web
Retweeted by 1 person

Elections results on its blog:

Below are confirmed results of Namibia Elections 2009 (Presidential and National Assembly) from different constituncies:

Confirmed constituency result for Tsumeb, in Oshikoto:

Election Watch is a project of the Institute for Public Policy Research. Election Watch has a blog of live election results.

Claims of irregularities:

The RDP and several other opposition parties held a press conference on Saturday afternoon alleging a string of irregularities including indelible ink that didn't work, ballot papers that did not have the official stamp, and the ever-changing voters register (of which there is a new version with yet another figure for the number of registered voters).

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) also used social networks such as Facebook to allow people from all over the world to express their views and opinions about Namibian elections.

The ruling party, SWAPO, has a channel on YouTube, a blog and an SMS service, which will enables members to keep in touch with the party. The number for the SMS line is 79276.

The opposition DTA of Namibia has a Youtube channel and a page of Facebook.

The main opposition party, RDP, is also on YouTube

Social media has not become popular in Namibia as in other African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria and Tanzania. We will keep our eyes on Namibia to see the future of social media in the country.

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