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SWAPO’s bloody nose good news for democracy

SWAPO’s bloody nose good news for democracy

By Oxford Economics.

Namibia’s presidential and parliamentary elections, held on 27 November, produced predictable outcomes as far as the winners were concerned. But, with victory margins for the ruling SWAPO slashed, it suggests the next elections will not be so predictable.

Incumbent President Hage Geingob won 56% of the vote as opposed to his 87% victory margin in 2014, while SWAPO has lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament, it secured 63 seats out of 96, down from 77 last time. Turnout was 61.1% down sharply from 72% in 2014.

The poor outcome for SWAPO in thin turnout reflects popular discontent over a series of corruption scandals and government’s reaction to a prolonged drought. It also reflects a growing backlash against what local media have described as a party and a presidency that have become less accountable and far more autocratic in their governance and relationships with the people. While the effect has been most notable on Mr Geingob’s support, his party suffered, too.

The number of opposition parties to win seats in Parliament is another indicator of an electorate looking for ideas and policies to support. While the main opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) won 16 seats with 17% of the vote, no fewer than 10 opposition parties won at least one seat.

An independent candidate who still claims to be a member of SWAPO, Panduleni Itula, polled second best in the presidential race with 30% of the vote. This is a massive increase over previous presidential candidates who were thrashed by SWAPO’s flag-bearers, in 2014, the runner-up, MacHenry Venaani from the PDM, only got 5.0% of the vote, but got 5.6% this year, a much lower score than what his party achieved.

There were complaints over the conduct of the poll. The use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) raised more suspicions than it should have, with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) attempting to cover up a number of incidents, including one where EVMs went mission.

While many of the complaints appear to be justified, there is no suggestion that the outcome of the poll was not a legitimate and credible representation of the will of the people. Observer missions expressed general satisfaction with the process.

Mr Geingob said after the announcement of the results that he was ‘a proud Namibian that we could have free and fair elections, no fighting, no attacking each other, free movement was allowed’.

It is more positive than negative that SWAPO and its presidential candidate received something of a bloody nose from the electorate, who clearly sent their leaders a message. The liberation party’s position is less assured than at any other time in Namibia’s post-independence history of democracy, and the 2024 elections may be unpredictable.

The performance of the combined opposition was another positive, with a clear signal that despite the somewhat closed nature of the Namibian political environment under SWAPO in recent times, the opposition had sufficient space and freedom to organise and campaign. The two-thirds majority has never been a major issue in Namibia and the loss of that edge will have no impact on governance.


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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.