Helena Johannes

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has urged the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to ensure fair play in the upcoming election.

This comes as the country is set to hold Regional Council and Local Authority Elections on the 25th of November and use ballot papers, a process which was phased out in 2014 following the introduction of Electronic Voting Machine (EVMs).

Due to the outcome of a court challenge about the legality of EVMs without a verifiable paper trail for each vote cast, the machines will not be used in the upcoming elections.

“I never trusted EVMs without paper trails. One of the court rules is that EVMs cannot be used if they do not have paper trails which is understandable because how do we confirm that people truly vote?,” PDM Secretary General Manuel Ngaringombe questioned.

Ngaringombe said the party has agreed to use ballot papers for the upcoming election on condition that the ECN will up its game in terms of fairness and credibility.

“We do not fully trust ballot papers either, as we have seen how during the 1994 election there were concerns associated with use of ballot papers. Some ballot papers went missing, some were found in the sea in Swakopmund and a few were found burned under the Okahandja bridge,” he said.

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) Movement spokesperson Simon Amunime said the movement is ready for the upcoming local and regional authority and had no problem with the use of ballot papers.

“The EVMs performed badly in the last election. They were not fast, some were breaking down at some polling stations and with the lack of electricity in rural areas, EVMs was forcing people to travel long distances to vote at polls where electricity is available,” he said.

“We are very confident that we are going to perform very well in this upcoming election, because it is not just about what you have to do to campaign now, the significant work that we have been doing for the citizens during the past five years, especially for the informal settlement, for the poor people and for those shacks were demolished and so on. We have always been on the core of land occupation.”

AR is participating in three local authorities’ elections: Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.

SWAPO spokesperson Hilma Nikanor said the ruling party is more than ready for the upcoming election and expects a resounding victory despite the planed use of ballot papers.

“From all the campaigns that SWAPO held so far, we have seen that the Namibian people trust us. We have no doubt about our victory as our aim remains to provide peace and stability. We will always be dedicated to service delivery and development for our people,” she said.

“SWAPO has never had any problem with any form of election process, be it the use of EVMs or ballot papers. There were those who complained about EVMs although they were the ones who wanted that technology change. As you know, it is not the first time ballot papers are being used, but others always find problems when they lose. That is why they keep blaming the election process.”

Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) said preparations for the Regional Council and Local Authority Elections is on course with a South African company (Uniprint) having been selected to print ballot papers .