WINDHOEK - The Electoral Commission of Namibia is battling a crisis of credibility following reports that suggested that electronic voting machines (EVMs) ‘loaned’ to Swapo in 2017 have still not been returned to the ECN. The ongoing fallout has been widely criticised by opposition leaders and commentators who feel the controversy around the missing EVMs raises serious questions about the credibility of the general election set for 27 November.
The ECN on Sunday confirmed that four control units as well as two ballot units were reported missing after they were ‘loaned’ out to the Swapo Party Elders Council elections committee in 2017.
The ECN also confirmed that a police investigation is underway to determine the whereabouts of the missing devices, while declining to comment on the issue further.
However, commentators feel someone needed to be held accountable.
Political commentator and executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood viewed the disappearance of several EVMs as very worrying, saying both the ECN and Swapo need to be held accountable.
“The ECN also needs to explain why they have effectively covered this up for two years? How can we be sure that more EVMs have not gone missing? I simply don’t accept the ECN explanation that they cannot comment further as the matter is under police investigation. They need to account to the electorate,” he remarked.
He added that although the machines themselves could not be used to manipulate the elections in a major way, the risk remains that someone has obtained the EVMs to see if they can manipulate the technology and therefore try to rig results.
Landless People’s Movement leader Bernardus Swartbooi was also fuming when he commented on the issue.
“I am told one machine has been picked up in Otjiwarongo and others re-appeared this week. Last week, Mujoro [ECN chief electoral and referenda officer] denied this whole story, and now this week, the story came out. Where is Mujoro being disciplined?” he questioned.
Swartbooi also wanted to know who authorised the machines to be loaned out to the Swapo Party Elders Council.
Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani said the time has come for Namibia to do away with EVMs, especially considering the fact that they cannot give a verifiable paper trail.
“The country that made these machines (India) there is already credibility doubts over the EVMs. I think the right thing to do is to hold these elections through a ballot. If the ECN cannot present a verifiable audit paper trail, and cannot allow political parties to be allowed in coalition centre in Khomas, then the whole idea of holding an EVM election is questionable and compromised,” Venaani reacted.
2019-10-23 07:10:49 | 30 days ago