Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Chief Electoral Officer, Theo Mujoro is adamant that a one-day voting process is sufficient for Namibia considering the country’s voting population.
He made this remark amidst accusation that the ECN may have erred in instituting a single voting day, marred by alleged insufficient logistical planning, technical glitches and EVM malfunction during the just concluded National Assembly and Presidential elections.
Former youth league secretary of economic affairs Imms Nashinge, a staunch campaigner for independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula, accused the ECN leadership of exhibiting levels of utter arrogance in the manner in which the recent elections was conducted.
“We were inundated with calls of many people who were denied an opportunity to perform their democratic rights by being turned away from polling stations. Another issue is the fact the elderly, or people with one or another disability were supposed to stand in the same queue as the able bodied youth, whereas the priority was than given to the elderly and this resulted into many young people not being able to vote,” Nashinge fumed.
“In short, ECN betrayed the rights of the people,” he added siding that the hope within their camp was that in light of the developments the ECN will extent the voting time to “at least 12:00 noon on Thursday.”
Nashinge further questioned the allocated voting timeslot of between 7:00 and 21:00 citing that it is insufficient, considering the vastness of the country and the apparent lack of planning and resources.
“It is disappointing that the polls have to be marred by anomalies such malfunctioning voting machines and power failures, considering that the ECN had five years to organise an election comprising of about 1,3 million voters. The onus is now on us to ensure that we demand for a culture of accountability from those entrusted with the running of such organisations,” Nashinge said.
Replying to the questions of delays in the process, Mujoro revealed that some polling stations were served by mobile units and it so happened that when officers were expected to leave from one site to another, the voters in line for hours were refusing to move. This, he said, led to a domino effect in terms of interruptions.
“One main problem is that during elections Namibia becomes one big constituency. Meaning that any voter has the right to vote wherever he or she want. This creates logistical challenges and time constraints in that we do not have specific numbers of expected voters, for a particular polling station,” Mujoro said.
The ECN chief rubbished the idea of a two-day voting session citing that with the size of Namibia’s voting population, a two day voting process is uncalled for. He maintained that it is important to institute a situation where voters only vote in their respective constituencies.
Regarding the claim that some voters were turned away from certain polling stations, Mujoro maintained that the rule was that at the ‘stroke of nine’ the police officer at the polling station should stand behind the last person in the queue.
“Instructions were clear that they should not allow people to vote after nine, but than some people arrived at the polling stations after nine o’clock, for reasons only known to them,” Mujoro said.
“With regard to the EVMs, I would not refer to it as technical glitches or malfunction but rather operational errors. We also had a few problems with our voter verification process but luckily we keep manual voter registers, as such these issues were rectified,” he said.
Mujoro confirmed three instances where there were power failures but maintained that generators were on hand to remedy these situations.
“It should further be noted that that all our voting machines are battery powered. And even in the event were a battery needed to be changed, this can be done without compromising the integrity of the results,” he said.
The ECN chief reiterated his organisation’s promise for a credible election and maintained that the results will be announced within 48 hours after the closure of the polls on Wednesday.
“In terms of the Electoral Act, the Chairperson cannot announce the full results until all the constituencies have been counted and verified, but at constituency level, the results are already trickling in and are available on various platforms already,” he stressed.