Friday 18 June 2021
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Why Swapo is ditching EVMs at congress

After convincing Namibians that the usage of electronic voting machines was the way to go during the 2014 national polls-even without a paper trail- the party is not comfortable with electronic voting at its congress taking place this weekend.
Some delegates said electronic voting is not transparent because there is no paper trail, this was agreed to by the central committee as well. This brings partial credence to the cries of opposition parties who opposed the usage of EVMs without a verifiable paper trail. Despite these cries the Swapo-led government pushed ahead and won the elections with a landslide majority.
The decision by the Swapo central committee (CC) not to use the Indian-made machines has raised eyebrows in the public domain as to why the ruling party has little faith in the machines.
Sources close to the Swapo congress have it that, Team Harambee, was pushing for the use of EVMs to decide the party’s future for the next five years in the run-up to much-talked-about congress. However, this was met by great resistance by Team Swapo, the faction led by sport minister Jerry Ekandjo and former Premier Nahas and a majority of senior party Swapo leaders.
More so, the decision by Swapo to go against the use of EVM comes as a surprise after it pushed for the use of the same during the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections, several by-elections and Swapo Party Elder’s Council’s (SPEC) sixth ordinary congress in Omusati region. At the polls in 2014, when EVMs were used for the first time, Swapo obtained 80% of the votes while its Presidential candidate (Geingob) received an overwhelming 87% of the votes.
Swapo’s lack of trust in EVMs at congress confirms the unreliability of the machines – a song opposition parties have sung all along.
Over the years, opposition parties have questioned the voting machines’ reliability and credibility, arguing that a possibility exists for the machines to be tampered with or pre-programmed to favour a certain political party or candidate.
Speaking to this publication this week, former health minister and Swapo CC member Dr. Richard Kamwi defended his Team Swapo’s decision to conduct the voting procedure manually saying it would ensure “extreme transparency”.
“We want extreme transparency. We do not want to come out pointing fingers. The number (of delegates) are few so that they do not need any machinery. For me it’s not about not trusting the EVMs. But we want transparency. When they count there, the people should see what is happening straight away. But when you use your EVMs, how can you?” asked Kamwi to further cast doubt in the voting machineries.
When it was put to him how EVMs take away what he termed “extreme transparency”, he retorted: “I am saying to you, the voters, when you compare the voters of congress (delegates) to the national (elections), they are not the same. Let’s put this thing in the open to allow full transparency to be in place.”
When further pressed, Kamwi asked: “Do you see what is happening there (in the EVMs)? Those[allegations that EVMs are pre-programmed]  are some of the things that we want to completely expel.”
When it was put to the former health minister whether or not the EVMs could still be used to decide election beyond the Swapo congress, he said: “My interest for this one[congress] is crucial. It’s about the future of this country. The wellbeing of 2019 will depend on the outcome of this election. Remember, when Swapo coughs, there’s fever. So let’s allow full transparency to reign. I am not saying I am against the EVMs, but given the number (of delegates), it’s a small number that we should just count 1, 2, 3…that’s what we should do.”
When approached by The Patriot this week, Swapo presidential hopeful Angula told this reporter that the Swapo CC has resolved to bring a paper trail component to the EVMs for the 2019 elections but for now the party will vote manually.
“The central committee has agreed that there must be a paper trail. You must be able to go back and recount if there are disputes,” said Angula without going into detail.
The paper trail facility allows the verification of votes through a receipt that serves as proof that the vote cast was for a particular political party or candidate. Additionally, Helmut Angula, a contender for the position of Swapo vice presidency denied claims that Swapo members had an internal dispute over the use of EVMs.
“We are going to use the manual voting procedure and it was already decided on.
There were no objections in the meeting…maybe individuals had different views in their personal capacity. But at the meeting, we all agreed,” he said.

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