‘EVM court battle could derail elections’ – analyst

22 November 2019 Author   Jeremiah Ndjoze
Political analyst Ndumba Jonah Kamwanyah has it that the outcome of the case in which the opposition is challenging the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) has the potential of throwing the entire electoral process in disarray if not approached with caution.
This, he says, is due to the timing between the announcement of the outcome of the case, which is set for Monday, 25 November 2019 and the scheduled day for the start of the elections – two days later.
Independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula, and others are demanding the withdrawal of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) during the upcoming National Assembly and Presidential Elections. Itula is joined by the Workers' Revolutionary Party (WRP) and the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) in the application.
According to the applicants, the election administration body, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has been approached many times to prove the credibility of the EVMs but has not responded hence the urgent application before the court.
Without pre-empting the outcome of the case, Kamwanyah warned this week, that the verdict, in this case, may either infuriate the opposition further or cause the postponement of the election.  This latter outcome could spiral into other financial and logistical nightmares.  The end result could be ultimate chaos for the normally peaceful and orderly elections process in Namibia.
“One will hope that the court will be careful not to throw the country in a state of pandemonium,” he stressed.  He concurred that there are genuine concerns about the lack of paper trails, but the timing in which the demands are being made is devoid of any good judgement from the side of the applicants. 
“EVMs have been used before and for the opposition to scramble at last minute to challenge their use is questionable.  Because of these politicians’ preoccupation with election rigging, this can be interpreted as a lack of confidence in their own campaigns.  That can be self-defeating,” Kamwanyah stressed.
He further stated that it is imperative for political parties to desist from building campaigns to promulgate fear and doubt among the electorate and to rather approach the polls optimistically and participate in the issue-based discourse. 
“Itula, for example, has the momentum on his side with all the talks about the fish-rot saga and having many people, especially the youth gunning for change on his side.  He should use these last days to attract higher numbers,” the political science lecturer at the University of Namibia maintained.  
The applicant in the legal case is further demanding a court order for the simultaneous use of ballot papers with the EVMs, for verification purposes, as an alternative to the complete withdrawal of the EVMs from the entire process.
Dr Itula's lawyers have noted issues such as the reported loss of EVMs that put into question, whether the use of the machines during the elections would influence the final election results.
ECN's legal team, on the other hand, says there is no factual nor legal reason for the applicants to have any of their requested judgements sustained.  
It further argues that the application timing is wrong as the election is around the corner and also that the High Court has already decided on the matter in 2014 hence the application should be removed from the court roll. 
Magistrate Uatjo Uanivi will hand down judgement on 25 November after hearing oral arguments from the lawyers representing Itula, ECN and other political parties contesting the elections.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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