… as Itula mobilises an anti-EVM demo slated for Saturday
By Staff Reporter
A daunting revelation by Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga that he was not aware of any police investigations into missing Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) has left a bad taste in the mouth of the voting public.
“As far as I remember, there is no case registered to the police of losing EVMs unless I don’t know. When you hear something circulating and these are rumours, you always have to sniff around and find out what is happening,” he is quoted as saying.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia this week disclosed that they were “sharing information and working closely with the Namibian Police in trying to find a solution for this matter”. But ECN took a sudden twist.
Although ECN had initially informed the public that a police investigation was underway, it admitted that “it is however now apparent that no criminal case was registered with the Namibian Police Force.”
Ndeitunga this week disclosed that the police were “sniffing around” after catching wind of the lost EVMs which, according to Justice Minister Sacky Shangala, had fallen off of a trailer.
The missing machines, as ECN has already admitted, had been loaned to the ruling Swapo party, a revelation which also torched a storm with a section of society, leading Affirmative Repositioning leader, Job Amupanda into writing to Mujoro over the matter.
Amupanda said he was shocked.
“As you know I wrote a letter to the ECN and at the time that I was writing, I was writing on the basis of the report, on the basis of certain events that had occurred in the past.
Now (in) the passage of time and as all these days go by, I get more convinced that probably the results of these elections are already sitting in somebody’s house or office because we are hearing that there are people who are being seen at someone’s house.
Those are personal relationships I don’t have evidence for, but it is part of those things that are seriously concerning.
Of course, before the shocking confirmation by the Inspector General, I had received a letter yesterday from the ECN and they are saying that the remarks made by the retaining officer are regrettable, why, because the guy was saying the EVMs are to blame,” he said. Amupanda has also raised the issue of an incident in which a voter voted twice.
“I was asking the ECN that your own employees are saying the EVMs are to blame.
They simply just respond that the remarks made by that person are regrettable.
So, this confirmation by the Inspector General of the Namibian Police is a further confirmation.
For me the integrity and credibility of this election are in serious doubt and I am not talking from whatever standpoint, I am talking from the standpoint of a voter.
Not talking about the vote of others, but my own vote, how do I know that my vote would go to a person that I want to vote for? It is very scandalous,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Commission has informed the Namibian public that it has taken cognizance of the concerns expressed through various mediums by the public on how the missing EVMs may affect perceptions on the credibility and integrity of the forthcoming election process.
“The Commission is fully aware of the EVM units that are missing and there is no way that any individual can somehow use the missing EVM units in the forthcoming 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections,” said ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja.
The official opposition held a press conference immediately after Ndeitunga’s revelation calling on ECN’s Theo Mujoro to resign.
The integrity of the Commission has been put to question.
However, Mujoro has attempted to pat activist Amupanda on the back by telling him, via a reply to his letter that the missing machines were serialised and thus it would be impossible for them to be used in the upcoming plebiscite. “The Commission is fully aware of the EVM units that are missing and there is no way that an individual can somehow use the missing EVM units in the forthcoming 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
All the EVM components have unique serial numbers.
In order to promote transparency and integrity throughout the electoral process, all key stakeholders are present at all material stages when the EVMs are prepared and dispatched,” said the Commission in response to Amupanda.
Independent Candidate Panduleni Ithula is set to marshal his supporters in a demonstration calling for an outright ban of the machines, come elections.
Ithula has found resonance with the electorate who converged at his Havana and coastal rallies in droves.
This week, he exercised a semblance of influence on opposition parties when he called on them to boycott the signing of the code of conduct without first perusing it.
The Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters and Secretary General for the Namibia Unity Democratic Movement (NUDO) Joseph Kauandenge sprung to his defence when the Mujoro refused to entertain his concerns.
But can Ithula bring parties together to fight the EVMs via a demo?
Some parties have already expressed that a demo would not bring an impact while the Republican Party has informed that it was fighting the case in court.
The party’s leadership has however lamented that due to a lack of funds, some parties had withdrawn from the court battle.
It is not clear if the commission will be dragged into court over the machines. An attorney who spoke anonymously to this publication said there was nothing in law that compelled ECN to impose the machines on the electorate.