• December 11th, 2019

Amend Act on special voting - SADC observers



WINDHOEK- The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) has recommended the National Assembly to consider amending the Electoral Act to ensure the votes from special voting are counted together with those from the main election, in order to minimise speculation and undue influence on voters.

Namibia conducted special election on November 13 to accommodate Namibians in foreign countries, those working on seagoing vessels and members of the security forces on duty on the national election day.

Votes from the special voting were, however, counted after polling closed and are, therefore, posted at various polling stations for the public. Thus, the mission recommends the National Assembly to consider amending the Electoral Act to ensure the votes from special voting are counted with those from the main election, in order to minimise speculation and undue influence on voters.

As part of the mission’s findings during the just-ended Presidential and National Assembly elections, Head of the SEOM to Namibia Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri on Friday highlighted the mission’s observations of the pre-election and voting processes.

The head of mission also commended Namibians for maintaining political maturity and for their peaceful conduct during the elections, which she described as generally peaceful, organised and conducted in a professional manner, enabling voters to express their democratic right.  She further noted the political and security environment in the pre-election and election period was calm, with no visible political and security risk.

Muchinguri-Kashiri applauded the level of compliance with the Electoral Law and the Electoral System, stating the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) had generally followed the country’s electoral laws and the electoral system in the execution of its duties. 

Additionally, she said political parties also showed respect for the country’s electoral laws and conducted their campaigns with due regard to the rule of law. 

On the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), the head of mission alluded to the concerns surrounding the use of these machines, stating its lack of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) raised persistent perceptions among the electorate and stakeholders, that they were not secure and could be hacked or manipulated, and that they have the potential to compromise the integrity of the electoral process. 

Hence, she said the lack of trust in the EVMs was further compounded by the loss of some of the machine units – under unclear circumstances, which were lent to the ruling Swapo Party in 2017. 

Likewise, there were issues arising from EVMs in several polling stations relating to non-functional units, which delayed the opening or disrupted the voting and verification processes. 

The mission recommended relevant authorities to take necessary steps to give effect to the provisions of the Electoral Act, as this may increase public confidence in the electoral system and the use of EVMs. The need for voter education on the use of the EVMs was also raised.

The release of the SADC preliminary statement was held in conjunction with the African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM), headed by Ernest Bai Koroma; former president of the Republic of Sierra Leone; the Commonwealth Electoral Observation Mission, headed by Musa Mwenye; former attorney-general of the Republic of Zambia, and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC Countries (ECF-SADC), headed by Emmanuel Magade, deputy chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). 

The AUEOM noted that the constitutional and legal frameworks are generally in line with international, continental and regional norms and standards for the conduct of democratic elections. 
“There are, however, some gaps such as the lack of regulations in relation to members of political parties who would like to participate in an election as independent candidates,” Koroma observed.
 


Albertina Nakale
2019-12-02 07:36:58 | 9 days ago

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