Despite not succeeding in his Supreme Court bid to nullify last year’s presidential election, Dr Panduleni Itula who was President Hage Geingob’s main challenger for the presidency, accepted the outcome with grace.
Shortly after Chief Justice Peter Shivute handed down the historic judgement, Itula immediately congratulated Geingob, adding he was now the legitimate head of state and deserved to be respected.
“Under the circumstances, I would like to congratulate comrade Hage Geingob for the victory, all be it without paper trail, he is now our legitimate President of this republic,” said Itula, whose comments were applauded by many, especially on social media platforms.
“We should respect him and I caution everybody who have been following the phenomenon for change to act within the principles of the rule of law and to respect our head of state,” Itula, who stood as an independent presidential candidate said.
Itula said the ruling by the Supreme Court ordering the use of paper trail for every election using electronic voting machines (EVMs) is a victory for the Namibian people.
“That is the victory that remedies the people of Namibia in honouring the heroes and heroines that sacrificed for us to be able to exercise our democratic right, to freely and fairly, and through a transparent process seek to elect our leaders,” he said. Namibian PhD scholar and research director at the Oxford Human Rights Hub, Ndjodi Ndeunyema said he was surprised by the Supreme Court judgement, especially after it found that the use of EVMs without a paper trail was unconstitutional.
He said the court’s failure to nullify the presidential vote outcome, because the applicants failed to provide sufficient evidence of irregularities with paperless EVMs, is debatable and even controversial.
“One would have thought that the ECN, as the constitutional body responsible for elections, bears the bulk on the burden of justification,” he said. Ndeunyema added there were also concerning observations and reports of EVM deficiencies and irregularities with the manner the ECN oversaw the elections, but these were unfortunately not tested by the court.
Also, he said, the ruling by the court that minister Charles Namoloh acted unconstitutionally should not be taken lightly, adding the court ruling basically means that Namibians have chosen their President and members of parliament using an unconstitutional voting mechanism.
“The applicants are largely vindicated in their case, the Supreme Court has played a credible role, and Namibians have once again demonstrated that we can maturely and peacefully resolve disputes that go to the heart of our democratic set up and the exercise of public power,” he added.
“We have clearly learnt from previous elections and the flaws that lead to the wide ranging electoral law reform project in 2012. This new election dispute settlement process is clearly effective in speedily resolving disputes, although costs in challenging election-related matters still remains a hindering factor, in my view.”
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) leader Mike Kavekotora, who was one of the applicants in the matter, said he was also puzzled by the fact that the court ruled against the selective promulgation of the Electoral Act, “but the derivatives of that invalid system is being validated”. “I see this ruling trying to accommodate and satisfy two target groups, the applicants and politics and it was not supposed to. That is why it is contradictory and is very unfortunate that our judiciary had to take that route again just like in 2010 when RDP took ECN to court,” he added. “That compromises in my view the independence of the judiciary. How do you invalidate the source but validate the product that comes from that source?”
ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja told journalists outside court that electoral body would uphold the judgement handed down.
“We as ECN presented solid arguments, the applicant presented their arguments and the court has considered both the arguments presented and came up with the judgement. We will uphold the rule of law and we will abide by the judgement,” she said.
She said the commission and all stakeholders would sit and consider whether the use of EVMs with a verifiable paper trail is feasible or not.
“We will have to consider as ECN and all stakeholders whether it is feasible to implement EVMs with VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) for the upcoming elections or whether we use ballot papers, I think the Act makes clear provision for two systems of voting and it will depend on the feasibility and that I cannot answer at the moment,” she said.
2020-02-06 07:31:30 | 17 days ago