Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Director of Operations Theo Munjoro says the organization’s preparations for the forthcoming general and presidential election slated for November are moving smoothly.
In an exclusive interview with The Villager, ECN’s Director of Operations, Theo Mujuru said they are ready and currently they are only intensifying the voter’s education campaign to reach out to electorate and the public at large in all the 121 constituencies.
He also put a lid to the much debated issue of Electronic Voting Machines saying they will not have a paper trail for the voters but in case of an argument they are able to print the voter print pout for verification by all parties.
“We are prepared and we believe that with the general voters registration exercise that took place from the beginning of the year, 60% of our preparations for the coming elections are completed. We view the preparations of a credible and an accurate voter’s register as a key principle as well as a key pre-requisite if you want to think of successful elections,” he said.
He added that their engagement with the political parties recently also confirmed their satisfaction with the preparations.
“The political parties are satisfied, they will be part of the elections and in fact we gave them all the answers they wanted to have and I think we calmed their fears and consents about the machines when we had a meeting this week,” Munjoro said.
Mujoro also said they are also focusing on voter’s education efforts on educating the public about the use of the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“We have used those machines in three elections already in Ohangwena bi-elections, the Bukalo local authority and in Otjinene. We will also be using these machines at the upcoming two bi-elections for Windhoek constituency and also in Endola in Ohangwena region. We will be using these machines at these elections and that should give us an additional opportunity and be able to experiment and attest the efficiency of these machines but so far so good,” he said.
Mujoro also said there will be 1388 fixed polling stations and 2586 mobile polling stations country wide adding that budgetary needs for the whole process have been catered for.
“We are busy recruiting people who will be assisting ECN with the carrying out of the forthcoming elections. We will be appointing coordinators, assistant coordinators, and returning officers to be able to perform duties on polling day. In total we will be appointing more than 13 000 officials,” he said.
Political parties had expressed concern over the use of EVMs but Munjoro who seemed rather confident quelled any worries associated with the technology.
“Our EMVs do not have the voter verified paper detail option which means if you are coming to cast your vote it doesn’t print a slip that confirms where your vote went but in India they are running a trial of something like that it’s not even used there yet.
"Our version of the EVM in an event of a dispute we can print out records of the vote. We connect the control unit to a printer and it will print a record showing that a certain voter gave his or her vote to this candidate of this party. That can settle the dispute; our system can print a record of what transpired on a particular box. But it does not show a person’s identity,” he said.
ECN’s N$1.5m tender
Mujoro also revealed that four Namibian companies are in line for scooping a tender worth of N$1.5m the companies are Oxygen Communications, Gisrole, Young designers and Grand Masters Printing.
“The company will do the branding, creating a theme, printing etc. The figure was the average of most of the companies but it’s possible that in our voter’s education budget we could have much more than that.
"I am not sure yet as we speak (Thursday) whether it was awarded but the Electoral Commission does not merely award the tender I think you need to make a recommendation from tender board. But they also use their own criteria maybe looking at ownership but I am not sure whether we made a recommendation already or whether they are still doing an evaluation on other aspects like mandatory requirement, social security, and affirmative actions among other things,” he said
He added that, “What that tender seeks to do is somebody who can brand the entire ECN premises, someone to do catering because we are converting the entire ECN building into an election results centre. The partner will be doing the branding but we will also be having staff members on board working in shifts to provide meals.”
Mujoro also denied the notion that tender was not open to public which resulted in only four companies applying.
“We have been open enough but I can also say that in most of our voter’s education materials like posters, fliers and others the production of this materials was held back by the elections dates as the dates was only confirmed recently by the President and obviously most of this materials should contain these dates so we couldn’t tell the printers to print and until we get confirmation of the dates,” he said.
He added that, “Few weeks ago we had a public advertisement calling for tenders for branding the elections and we had companies doing their presentations and in terms of openness I am proud to say we are an open organisation and we follow tender board procedures nothing is done behind close doors we only had four companies that tendered maybe the other companies don’t have the capacity.”