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NamÔÇÖs bold stance with EVMs commendable

Mon, 17 November 2014 02:16
by Linekela Halwoodi


At a time when everyone (youth) seems to be consumed by the frustration of ridiculous high prices of land and housing and high prices of rent especially in the capital, Judgement Call is applauding the government.
Not applauding it on the land issue, because we (youth) have been failed when it comes to short term effective solutions. Mass housing is too far-flung for comfort and the Ministry of Regional, Local Government, Housing and Rural Development has been deemed a failure meanwhile the national housing backlog is about 100 000 units and growing by 3700 units per year.
However, the government (especially the Electoral Commission of Namibia) should be applauded for dipping its toes in waters that other countries in Africa have been afraid to go near. Namibia is going to be the first African state to hold general elections using the Electronic Voting Machine system. In 2010, there were reports that Kenya would have its 2012 elections using EVMs because of the violence that took place in 2007 during the Raila Odinga and Mwai Kibaki saga but that never happened.
Namibia becomes the first African state that is showing that a free and fair election is possible, and because we cannot safely say that this is a product that will operate without malfunctions, ECN says that it has ballot papers on standby in case the machines malfunction but we would not want that to be the case. Not only because it will take us a step back by going back to ballots in the next elections but because we will most likely kill all other hope for other countries in Africa waiting to use a more effective, less risky method of voting.
Other countries shied away from using EVMs because this means that, they would have discovered a method that lowered the chances of tempering with the results. Namibia has shown some growth by implementing this, although you cannot safely say that the government has nothing to hide, you can applaud them for taking the decision to implement this new voting system which could give you 99.9% un-tempered results.
It should be able to cut out all doubts, of sabotage and unfair elections, because unlike ballot which in the past in Namibia and all over Africa resulted in re-counts, blood shed and some kind of up rise the EVMs are not easily tempered with.
The EVMs to be used in the upcoming elections were procured from India, a country that has been using this voting system for many years. Although after a while scandals of fraud and tempering started to surface although there had been more success than failures with India’s large population. With this new system of voting in Namibia, results will be ready in a day, unlike in the past when it would take a week for ECN to count, verify and compile the ballots.
Opposition parties in South Africa, were saying the ballot papers were rigged in the previous elections, a trend to be expected with any elections where the system of elections has more vulnerabilities than corrupt-free qualities.
EVM are currently used in 20 countries in the world, countries such as United State of America, India, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, France, Brazil, Venezuela and Japan this system.
However, in Australia, Italy, Great Britain, Kazakhstan and Norway they were piloted and never continued and in Paraguay and Germany they were discontinued. These machines are currently being piloted in Russia and Mongolia.
This new system that Namibians have been introduced to is supposed to put to ease the worries of ballots being stolen, or destroyed or even officials with ill intent tempering with the voting results. ECN has explained that this system means that the tedious counting system which required every ballot to be verified by a group of people to make sure that it is really going to the right party will end because this machine or system has been programmed to automatically sum up the votes.
Namibia has set an example by embracing technology for a sensitive thing such as elections.
It is also commendable that Namibia has made a bold move of introducing technology in the most important component of the country’s development. Such manoeuvres also show that the country is determined to improve the democratic dynamic of Namibian politics. It also shows that unlike other countries that have seen elections  resulting  in blood baths and counter court challenges Namibia has taken the nod to introduce a close to perfect election.
It should also be commended that while the cost of democracy is not cheap Government and ECN put together enough resources to be able to acquire such expensive technology in the name of enhancing the democratic processes in the country.
Manoeuvres that Namibia has taken to introduce EVMs are those not many African brothers would want to attempt. There have been sighted examples where countries like Zimbabwe took two months t announce election results saying they were still correlating the results but to date they are still to make decision on using EVMs.