Several opposition parties are calling on the Government to do away with the Indian-made Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) during national elections, saying even the ruling party has little or no faith in the machines.
These calls come at a time when Swapo Party opted against the use of the Indian-made machines to decide their own elections at their just ended 6th elective congress in the capital.
In the run-up to elective congress, Swapo’s central committee (CC) deliberated on the possibility of using EVMs at Congress.
The idea of using EVMs to decide the party’s future was shut down in totality as CC, Swapo’s second highest decision making body resolved to go against their use.
Swapo opted to take the traditional ballot voting route over EVMs.
This has drawn criticism from opposition political parties – who have since the introduction of EVMs rejected their use citing lack of transparency, credibility and reliability. Rally for Democracy and Progress (RPD) secretary general Mike Kavekotora reiterated that EVMs cannot be relied upon.
“We are and have been on record as the RDP questioning the reliability, transparency and integrity or the EVMs. And we have rejected EVMs on a constant basis. And the ruling Party has always been holding the position that EVMs are totally reliable, that they are faster, transparent and cannot be tempered with. Now, they[Swapo Party] themselves have rejected the use of EVMs in the Congress,” Kavekotora said.
According to Kavekotora, Swapo’s decision not to use EVMs affirms what the RDP has been saying. “It is a clear message to the nation that the notion that we have been saying that EVMs are not reliable and that they can be tempered with and manipulated has now beyond any doubt been demonstrated by Swapo with them rejecting the EVMs. It is also a confirmation in our strong belief that elections in Namibia have never been credible and transparent,” added Kavekotora before adding that “Swapo as the ruling party must just do the noble thing and chuck out EVMs as they have done at the Swapo Congress and bring back the normal ballot paper voting system,” stressed the RDP Parliamentarian.
He added that considering Namibia’s population of over just 2,3 million “EVMs were not brought in Namibia so that we have a transparent system” and that “it was also not based on the fact that we have a big population”.
He charged that: “It[introduction of EVMs] was based of the fact that Swapo wanted to continue rigging elections without leaving any evidence behind. That was the purpose.”
He added that the just ended Congress revealed a number of things that the Swapo Party has repeated denied over the years.
“The just ended Swapo Congress revealed a host of things. All the things that we have been saying were manifested at this Congress. We have been saying Swapo has lost focus; Swapo doesn’t run this country on a prudent basis; Swapo is used to self-enrich…these are all things that were being said during the campaign process between the two camps. Swapo can no longer deny it,” he charged.
Additionally, SWANU president Tangeni Iijambo hopes that the voting machines will never see the light of day in Namibia again.
According to Iijambo, Namibia was used as the testing ground for the machines. “First of all, Namibia was used as the guinea pig. We were the first in Africa to use them in Africa. And for me that has been a big question mark as to why we were the first to use them,” said Iijambo.
On the question of their credibility, Iijambo said: “They are not credible because they don’t have a paper trail and of course they are programmable. And we also know India (where the machines are made) was the first country to recognise Swapo as a government in exile.”
Iijambo added: “Swanu completely rejects the machines. Because they are not right in terms of not having a paper trail and they are programmable. For, where we can follow our elections through the traditional ballot and our small population, I don’t understand why we have get so sophisticated to use those machines.”
The Swanu president said Swapo’s rejections of the machine at their own congress was a reflection of what transpires during national elections.
“They[Swapo] rejected them because they know it will be difficult to programme them to favour one team. Because it’s all Swapo. I hope that in 2019, we don’t have to use those machines but to go back to the traditional way,” Iijambo concluded.
Agreeing with Kavekotora and Iijambo was Popular Democratic Movement’s (PDM) vice president Kazeongere Tjeundo who said that time was “ripe” for Swapo Party to come clean on EVMs.
“I am addressing this question to President Hage Geingob: What is about the EVMs that Swapo was scared of?
What are the disadvantages of using EVMs?
They must tell us.
Why is very same Party that introduced EVMs now against their use when it comes to their own election?
We think Swapo should be leading by example and tell the world that EVMs are devoid of any problems and that those who are scared of using them, just cry foul,” Tjeundo pondered briefly.
He said a response from the ruling Party will inform that nation whether or not opposition parties were right say EVMs “are not credible, cannot be trust and are not reliable”. “If Swapo introduced the EVM, why not then use it? For me, I am utterly disappointed and we demand answers from them. Why impose EVMs on opposition parties but when it comes to your internal elections, you are saying EVMs are not transparent? What are you hiding?” Tjeundo asked.
When approached by The Patriot, long-term Congress of Democrats (CoD) servant Tsudao Gurirab said the voting machinery should never be used again in Namibia.
“It is clear now that EVMs were never reliable. We shouldn’t have elections with EVMs. We should never ever have elections with EVMs in Namibia,” said Gurirab.
CoD is one of the political parties that failed to make it to Parliament when EVMs were put the test for the first time in 2014.
Despite pushing for the use of EVMs during the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections, several by-elections and the Swapo Party Elder’s Council’s (SPEC) sixth ordinary congress in Omusati region – Swapo’s decision not to use the same over the weekend came as a surprise.
At the polls in 2014, when EVMs were used for the first time, Swapo obtained 80% of the votes while its Presidential candidate (President Hage Geingob) received an overwhelming 87% of the votes.