Southern Africa Countries Elect New Governments
Alexander MEZYAEV | 10.12.2014 | OPINION

Southern Africa Countries Elect New Governments

The countries of Southern Africa go through a period of elections taking place in succession. On November 28, seventy-three-year-old Prime Minister Hage Geingob, a leading politician of Namibia, won the presidential election receiving nearly 87 percent of votes. 

With the population slightly over two million Namibia is an important contributor into the world economy. The country is the fifth largest uranium producer (after Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia and Niger) and is expected to become the leading world uranium raw material exporter in 2015. While Namibia is known predominantly for its gem diamond and uranium deposits, it is also rich in gold, manganese, copper, tin, tungsten and zinc. Wide opportunities exist for offshore gas extraction (with deposits still not fully explored). 

Hage Geingob, the newly elected President of Namibia, has taken an active art in the independence movement. He has graduated from three US universities: Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Fordham University and the New School – both located in New York. After about thirty years of living abroad Geingob returned to Namibia in 1989 to be elected Chairman of the Constituent Assembly which was responsible for formulating the Namibian Constitution. In 1990-2000 Hage Geingob was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia under Sam Nujoma. In 2003, Hage Geingob was appointed Executive Secretary of the non-governmental Global Coalition for Africa based in Washington, D.C. In 2007 he was elected Vice-President of SWAPO (the South-West Africa People’s Organization) to be subsequently re-elected for the position in 2012. 

The parliamentary election took place on the same day with 16 political parties taking part. As expected, SWAPO cruised to victory. The legendary movement for liberating the South East Africa received over 80% of votes and 77 seats in the parliament. It’s a big success: the party got 6% of votes more than in the previous election and, correspondingly, added 23 parliamentary seats. The ruling party has not only maintained but greatly increased the public support. At that the main news was not the SWAPO victory but the change in the camp of opposition. 

The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) (1) took over as the leading opposition force leaving behind the RDP (the Rally for Democracy and Progress) (2) led by Hidipo L. Hamutenya, a former SWAPO member. 

It should be noted that the Communist Party of Namibia gained a major success. It got over 13 thousand votes in comparison to only 810 in the previous election. Now it can enter the parliament. There are two parties with the same name in the country. The both strive for socially oriented independent economy, a model which would closely resemble the Stalin-days socialism in the Soviet Union. 

The aid provided by the USSR greatly helped SWAPO when it was fighting for independence. There was a period of prolonged suspension of the Russia-Namibia relationship in the 1990s. It was revived only this century. Visiting Moscow in 2010, then Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba emphasized the fact that the Russian people made a great contribution into the liberation of Namibia…He said that each and every time Namibians went to Moscow or other Russian cities they always felt gratitude for the aid delivered to their country. 

On May 20, 2010 the memorandum of understanding between the two governments on intentions in the development of cooperation in geological and uranium exploration on the territory of Namibia was signed in Moscow. The countries develop cooperation in fisheries with Russia receiving 50% of 500 million metric tons fishing quota in the Namibian territorial waters. The plans include the construction of an electric railroad stretching from Namibia to Botswana, two hydro-electric power stations along the Lower Orange and Kunene rivers and a fertilizer production plant. 

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In the autumn of 2014 three South African nations held regular elections: Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana. In January 2015 elections will take place in Zambia. A bit earlier - in May, 2014 - general elections were held in South Africa. 

Filipe Jacinto Nyussi, a politician little known before, won the general election in Mozambique in October. To large extent his victory is explained by the fact that FRELIMO, the main political force of the country, is going through a serious crisis after having been in power for more than 40 years. With 55, 9 % of the vote FRELIMO lost about 50 seats in the parliament. The Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) (3) achieved a significant success. Gathering 32% of votes it greatly strengthened its position. RENAMO was founded in 1975 by special services of racist regime in South Rhodesia led by Ian Smith. When Rhodesia became independent in 1980 the organization started to serve another master - the South Africa’s racist regime. Finally the racists lost the both countries but RENAMO continues to exist. It was RENAMO who made the country go through the civil war of 1984-1992. By the end of 2012 it tried again to destabilize the situation in Mozambique. Afonso Dhlakama, the RENAMO leader, said he was going to destroy the country if his demands were not met. A wave of terrorist acts hit Mozambique in 2013 with civilian and military sites attacked. 

There was nothing unexpected as the results of the Botswana election held on October 24 became known. The country boasts a stable political situation with the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) being the leading political force. It is led by Ian Khama, the son of Sir Seretse Khama, who was the first president of the country. Unlike Namibia and Mozambique, Botswana does not elect its president by direct vote; instead the chief executive is elected by parliament. The Khama’s party won absolute majority of seats. 

 Unlike Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana, Zambia will hold a snap election on January 10. Michael Chilufya Sata, the late President of Zambia, died in London on October 28, 2014, Vice President Guy Scott, a white Zambian of Scottish descent, became the country's acting President. A pure Scott by origin and a citizen of Zimbabwe, he was nominated for the position of Vice President on the date of the Zambia’s 50th anniversary of independence (Zambia got independence from Great Britain and Scotland is part of the Kingdom). There are dozens of candidates running for presidency. Defense Minister Edgar Lungu and Given Lubinda, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, are the most well-known presidential aspirants from the ruling Patriotic Front (PF). Christine Kaseba, the widow of former Zambian president Michael Sata, has also joined other presidential hopefuls in a race for the top job. Former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda is running on the ticket of Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD), the country’s leading opposition force. 

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Finally, I’d like to add a few words about the economic development of South African nations compared to the situation in Europe. In 2013 the GDP of Namibia grew by 4, 2%, the growth was 5, 6% in Botswana, 7, 5% in Zambia and 8, 5% in Mozambique! The economic growth in Europe was: 1, 6% in Sweden, 1, 7% in Great Britain, the GDP went down by 1, 9% in Italy while the overall GDP of the European Union fell by 0, 1%. I remember the visit of Sam Nujoma (the first President of Namibia) to Russia in 1998. Back then he offered to start ostrich meat exports to Russian partners (I can testify to the highest quality of the product). Russia made its choice in favor of European meat. Under the existing conditions Moscow will probably remember the Sam Nujoma’s offer made 16 years ago, as well as other opportunities offered by further economic cooperation with the countries of African continent. 

(1) На языке африкаанс - Demokratiese Turnhalle Alliansie
(2) RDP – Rally for Democracy and Progress
(3) Portuguese - Resistência Nacional Moçambicana

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