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Right to vote not protected

Tue, 21 October 2014 23:52
by Melba Chipepo
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Proceedings at the Electoral Commission Electoral Symposium this week came to a standstill when the leader of the Workers Revolutionary Party Hewat Beukes and the Director of the Namibia Human Rights Centre August Maletsky were ushered out of the symposium for calling ECN a fraud.

Maletsky and Beukes accused the ECN of massive fraud in the upcoming presidential and national assembly elections to be held on 28 November. The duo allege that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to be used in the upcoming elections have already been rigged as they do not have visible paper trail and are being sourced from two different countries instead of one.

“They (ECN) put it up on social media that the machines are coming from Canada and India, why are the machines not coming from one country only. There is no visible paper trail on the machines, the machine works like a calculator and has no electronic protocol. We don’t need education on how to use the machines we need accountability”.

Maletsky called the symposium a PR exercise and also accused the ECN of knowing that the machines have defects, “We have pointed out the defects of the machine but they (ECN) have kept quiet, these people are crooks and therefore our party will not take place in these elections. The ECN being independent is a contradiction”.

The ECN however refuted the allegations, Director of Operations at the Electoral Commission Theo Mujoro told the Villager that Maletsky and Beukes are confused, “The machines are only coming from Barad Electronics in India. Those guys are just looking for attention, they have never attend meetings or briefings, they have never been part of our meetings and are just here to bring confusion.

The machines proved to be reliable during the recent by elections held in, Omaheke, Bukalo and Ohangwena so there is no problem with them”, he said. ECN Chairperson Notemba Tjipueja assured political parties and stakeholders that the machines are reliable and are designed in such a way that they can detect if a voter tries to vote twice as the machine will not only be able to detect the voters name and face but also the barcode of their voters card. She also said that in addition to the new voting machines voters will also have their thumbs inked.

“The technology in the EVMs that we will use is different from the ones used in different countries, with regards to verification scanners, the scanner will able verify finger prints to ensure that nobody votes twice or that nobody votes for someone else” she added. NEEF Spokesperson Olsen Kahiriri expressed his disappointment at the treatment of Maletsky and Beukes, “We are shocked that people were told to leave, that’s not how a democracy session works. We strongly believe that the two men raised a valid and legitimate point and were not supposed to be chased out of the symposium. We also are curious as to how the machines will work and also want to be assured of their reliability”.

Other political parties also expressed their concerns with regards to the EVMs, Benson Katjirijova of the DTA questioned the fairness and credibility of the EVMs

. Other concerns raised were that the public are not aware that the system of voting has changed or how to use it. A representative of SWAPO said the ECN is confusing the public by showing flyers and pamphlets that show the traditional way of voting of marking ballot papers instead of the flyers with the EVM on them.

Political parties last month questioned the voting machines reliability, and said there is a possibility for the machines to be tampered with or pre-programmed to favour a certain political party.

Tjipueja also said that approximately 2 500 vehicles will be required during the forthcoming elections and that close to a 1000 vehicles have already been secured from within government including 700 brand new vehicles handed over to the ECN during the last few days. Namibia will be the first African country to use the EVMs, other countries known to have used the machines include Venezuela, Brazil, the Netherlands and India. The EVMs advantages have been said to be the reduction of time spent on counting and that results would be announced within 24 hrs after polls. .