It’s time to smell the coffee

11 July 2019 | Opinion

In December 2015, then Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) director of elections, Paul Isaak, told Nampa in an interview the commission would be using electronic voting machines (EVMs) with a voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) in all elections as from 2017.

Isaak said at the time that to address the credibility of the EVMs, the ECN, political parties and other stakeholders would meet in 2016 to discuss the modalities on how to include a VVPAT.

Fast-forward to 2019, barely months before a general election, and this has not materialised.

In January this year, ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro said the commission is sticking with its position that a VVPAT is out of the question for this year's general election.

He said it will cost Namibia N$160 million to acquire VVPAT functionality for the country’s Indian-manufactured EVMs.

Mujoro added it will not be possible to acquire the technology before the 2019 general election because the Indian company that provided the EVMs will be busy with the Indian elections.

The 2019 Indian general election was held in seven phases from 11 April to 19 May to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha.

In November 2014, days before the general election that year, the Windhoek High Court dismissed an urgent application brought by three opposition parties asking it to postpone the parliamentary and presidential polls.

“The applicants were in possession of documents about the issues brought before the court by 20 October, but brought them here a month later, no reasons were given why they did not file the application earlier, no case was made for urgency,” Judge Kobus Miller said in his ruling.

We are now just months away from the 2019 polls. Will opposition parties be waking up at the last minute again to run to the courts or have they fully engaged the ECN and exhausted all avenues before turning to the courts this time? It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!