Eba Kandovazu & Zorena Jantze
WITH only a week left before Namibians are set to cast their vote in the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections, independent candidate, Dr Panduleni Itula, is dragging the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to the Electoral Tribunal to demanded that independent ICT technicians inspect the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) that will be used on 27 November.
The matter was chaired by Uatjo Uanivi and was heard on an urgent basis in a fully packed gallery at the Katutura Magistrate’s Court.
Itula is seeking for an order that would compel the ECN to refrain from using the EVMs in the upcoming elections.
He alternatively wants the ECN to authorise the expert technicians for the inspection of the EVMs at the commission’s expense.
Itula further demanded that the ECN implement a voter verifiable paper audit trail to operate simultaneously with the EVMs in the scheduled elections.
“It is impossible for someone that is not an expect to detect irregularities in EVMs. This inspection is being asked in the wake of the lost machines. No one knows where the lost machines are. The ECN should deploy these experts at their own cost. Yes, it will be a very expensive exercise, however, it is possible,” Henry Shimutwikeni argued as Itula’s representative legal counsel.
He further urged that there be sanctions imposed against the Chairperson of the ECN, Notemba Tjipueja, adding that the chair has disseminated false information that there is a police case opened in a quest to trace down the missing EVM machines.
“The chairperson of the ECN has violated the oath she took when she came into office by allowing the negligent use of the EVMs which is specifically protected by regulations in the Electoral Act of 2014. Can the Tribunal at least hold someone accountable,” Shimutwikeni stated.
Speaking on behalf of the Workers Revolution Party (WRP), Hewat Beukes said that they have submitted indelible evidence that the EVMs are dysfunctional.
He further stated that the independence of Namibia is being ousted via the use of EVMs that were engineered by the Indian military.
Beukes added that during the 2014 elections when the EVMs were first used, the ECN confirmed that over 1,000 duplicates were found on the voters’ register.
Beukes stated that this proves that the bio-metric finger printing system used with the EVMs are faulty.
Representing the ECN, senior legal counsel, William Mokhare, stated that there is no link between loss of the EVMs and the chair of the ECN, and thus she cannot be held accountable.
Mokhare further added that there is also no connection between the EVMs that were lost in 2017 and the current polling taking place, and thus there is no need for the Tribunal to entertain the matter.
“This application constitutes abuse of process. It was brought at the eleventh hour. The applicant was aware that the special elections will take place on 13 November but took no step to bring this application before that date. The elections will have to be postponed if the applicant succeeds with his claims. This will have the most devastating effect on the fundamental constitutional right to vote for thousands of Namibians who have anxiously waited to cast their democratic vote,” ECN Chief Electoral Officer, Theo Mujoro, said in an affidavit.
The judgement will be heard next week, 25 November – exactly two days before the country is set to vote.