Swartbooi raises questions over ballot papers …as polls open tomorrow

Andrew Kathindi

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader, Bernardus Swartbooi, has claimed discrepancies in the number of ballot papers printed ahead of tomorrow’s regional and local authority elections.

He said the development had cast doubts on whether the elections will be free and fair, as well as suspicions. “Since the Ballot papers arrived at the Hosea Kutako International Airport on 13 November, 2020, no political party’s representatives were allowed to witness the offloading of Ballot papers from the aircraft,” Swartbooi said. According to the LPM leader, while busy with the verification and confirmation of ballot boxes, it was observed that extra ballot papers in excess of between 1400-5000 were printed in some constituencies. Earlier this month, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) announced that the final number of registered voters in the 121 constituencies across the country stood at 1, 408, 670, with 3, 916 registered voters in Kabbe North in the Zambezi region from that number. However, Swartboi has claimed that 8900 ballot papers were printed for Kabbe North. With 15 percent extra ballots printed for contingency in case of spoiled ballots, the number for the constituency, he argued should

have been 4, 503.

Similarly, Kabbe South in the same region, which has 3, 751 registered voters, had 4400 ballot papers printed, Swartbooi claimed. The LPM leader also took issue with the 15 percent of extra ballots printed, saying the number is too high. “The 15 percent contingency plan does not make sense at all, because there are areas, such as Swakopmund (in excess of 5350 ballot papers printed), Walvis Bay Rural (in excess of 3862), and Walvis Bay Urban (in excess of 3797)” He added, ”It doesn’t make sense to have so many extra ballot papers printed. That is way too many extra ballot papers. How did ECN come to the provision of the 15% contingency plan? Give reference to research done on that.”

This comes as ECN last week announced that it had detected anomalies regarding ballot papers for five constituencies, being the Windhoek West, Karibib, Otavi, Omatako and Otjombinde constituencies. According to the Commission, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) candidates whose information appeared on the printed the ballot papers for Windhoek West and Karibib constituencies, were unlawfully nominated. “Otavi constituency – photo for LPM & SWAPO parties were swapped. Otjombinde Constituency – Surname of the Independent candidate was misspelled. Omatako Constituency – picture used for the independent candidate was incorrect. Picture of Swapo party candidate for Okakarara constituency was used,” ECN Spokesperson, Lina Ndengu told Windhoek Observer. She said the mistakes were the ECN’s and thus it will have to carry the costs. Uniprint, the company that won the tender to print the ballot papers did the reprint, Ndengu confirmed. She however could not divulge the cost for the reprint of these ballot paper

s.“Errors were corrected and ballot papers arrived on 20 November 2020 in the country and the candidates involved will verify their details on the new ballot papers before it is distributed to the regions.”

ECN also announced that while in terms of section 98(2) of the Electoral acct, 5 of 2014, a voter who is employed as a returning officer, presiding officer, polling officer, counting officer, police officer, may in an election for a member of a regional council, or for members for a local authority council, cast his/her vote on special day, seafearers would not take part in these year’s elections. “The Electoral Act at the moment unfortunately only makes provision for special voting during the Regional and Local Authority elections, for the category of election officials I mentioned above and police officers.”

Swartbooi accused the ruling party, Swapo of using ECN to do this as a means of disenfranchising voters where it feels its support has waned.

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