WINDHOEK - Opposition parties and civil society organisations yesterday raised concern over pressing issues such as the much-debated use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) election observation mission.
The worries were raised yesterday during the launch of the SADC electoral observation mission to Namibia.
They also noted the issue of parties destroying the campaign materials for rivals.
The 53-person SADC observer mission is in Namibia to observe the Presidential and National Assembly elections slated for next week.
Other issues raised include the refusal by the electoral commission of Namibia (ECN) in releasing the results of the recently held special elections by foreign missions and sea-going personnel as well as members of the Namibian Defence Force, the Namibian police and correctional services.
The SADC mission is headed by Zimbabwean Minister of Defence and war veteran Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri who is representing the chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
There are 53 SADC election observers in Namibia.
Rally for Democracy and Progress president Mike Kavekotora wanted to know from Muchinguri-Kashiri how transparent is the election observation mission.
He accused the mission of not being impartial and transparent in election observing, saying most members of the SADC election observation mission are from ruling parties in their respective countries.
“There is a feeling among the opposition parties, especially those parties who have not been in the liberation struggle in SADC, that we are on the receiving end. You are not impartial and transparent. I want you to give assurance that what we are seeing in many of the SADC countries is not repeated in Namibia. For example, when the names were introduced to us, most of you came from Zim (Zimbabwe). Zim just went through the election process, I don’t think the process can be defined as having been free, fair and transparent. What type of assurance do you give us that you won’t be in favour the liberation movement as you have been accused of over the years?” he questioned.
He further questioned how many members are from the opposition parties that form part of the mission, saying the feeling is that the ruling parties are citing with other ruling parties in SADC to remain in power.
Kavekotora also asked the mission what mechanism they have in place to ensure there is no rigging of elections in Namibia.
Muchinguri-Kashiri responded the mission has a role to observe and not interfere in domestic affairs of Namibia such as court cases regarding elections.
However, she said the mission is guided by the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections of 2015, hence their assessment will be based on the tenet stipulated in the guideline.
such guidelines include measures to prevent corruption, bribery, political violence, intimidation and intolerance.
Additionally, she said they just arrived in Namibia and are yet to familiarise themselves with issues of political campaign rallies.
However, she assured that the mission does not interfere in any political party’s affairs, but stick to SADC principles and guidelines that govern democratic elections.
“We are observers in these elections and we do not interfere in the running of political parties’ affairs. We have dos and don’ts that we must observe as a mission. We are not in Namibia as individual countries, but as collective posture. The issue of EVMs was raised, the issue of access to the media was also raised. I have already presented those reports to the government. This is the tradition we take as we observe elections in all SADC countries,” she noted.
She promised to meet the election commissioners over the issue of the use of EVMs.
Muchinguri-Kashiri said they also took note of issues of intimidation and hate speech, while promising to look into them as they engage stakeholders.
Equally, she rubbished allegations that the mission support liberation movement political parties to remain in power, saying SADC goes beyond liberation movements.
She explained SADC is guided by principles and they abide to those guidelines and not by their own personal or party aspirations.
On the special election results, she stated the norm in all SADC countries is that the results are normally announced and released once the general elections are over.
Nangof Trust chair Sandie Tjaronda said there is a tendency by observer missions to shy away when it comes to political conflicts while SADC has common values.
Tjaronda also raised the issue of the use of state resources by the ruling Swapo Party for its political campaign rallies while other parties and candidates are disadvantaged.
2019-11-19 07:25:16 | 19 days ago