WINDHOEK - Presidential hopeful Dr Panduleni Itula has taken issues with the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), saying they are not suitable for elections in a democratic country like Namibia.
Itula, who is one of the 11 presidential candidates, cast aspersions on the integrity of the elections if EVMs are continually used.
The independent candidate reasoned that EVMs are not subject for inspection compared to ballot papers, which are examined by party agents prior to them being sealed.
He also added that the status quo does not allow an agent – who has no expertise in information technology – to determine precisely whether EVMs have been tampered with, pre-programmed or can be diverted.
The absence of a Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail is also an issue for Itula.
“You need to understand the verification is not about an external body.
It’s the Namibian citizen who has the right to exercise their democratic right of participation who should be able to verify. In the paper situation, you cross against Itula, you put in the box that you have inspected that it contains nothing and it’s impossible to remove it unless the seal has been taken. The voter has verified,” he said.
“Namibians, you have to understand one thing; it’s your vote, your democratic right borne out of the blood of our people. If you vote electronically, without being able to verify that vote is being received in this basket of Dr Itula, then you have no proof that you voted for Dr Itula.”
According to him, no agent at any polling station will be within the law to verify during inspection that votes have been tampered with.
He said until that can be verified, elections in Namibia will never be free and fair.
Citing section 97 of the Electoral Act, which states that any use of EVMs is subject to the simultaneous use of a paper trail and any vote cast shall be verified by a paper trail, Itula said this was unfortunately not enforced.
Itula is not the only one that has criticised the use of EVMs in local elections.
Opposition parties have also been vocal in challenging the ECN to introduce paper trails, especially in the general elections.
On his presidential ambitions, Itula said he was standing for every Namibian.
“I am the only independent candidate, historically so, representing myself, but representing the entire Namibian population, irrespective of their political persuasion and religious persuasion,” he said.
Itula remains a Swapo member.
On whether he is going against the unity of Swapo by standing as an independent, Itula said he was merely exercising his democratic right. He went on to say that the Swapo constitution allows for members to elect or to be elected into positions of authority.
“When grassroots are called upon to exercise constitutional rights of Article 17, the Swapo Party Constitution and its rules and procedures discriminate against that. We have the Swapo Electoral College that goes up there to elect a leader. As the chairperson of the ECN stated ‘what you do in-house is okay, but when you come out of that house into the Namibian Constitution, you must comply with the Namibian Constitution’,” Itula countered.
2019-10-21 06:48:52 | 11 months ago