Clarify needed on EVM scandal

22 October 2019 | Columns

Unprecedented events continue to surface in the build-up to the November 27 general election. The cherry on top of this crumbling cake is the scandal regarding electronic voting machines (EVMs) that went “missing”, in the ECN’s own words, after being loaned out for use by the Swapo Party Elders Council (SPEC).

The SPEC elective congress at which the machines were used took place in July 2017 at Outapi. More than two years later, in 2019, these national assets have still not been returned to ECN. The ineptitude is shocking. The ECN says one of the machines is currently in Otjiwarongo in the custody of the police. How it ended up in Otjiwarongo, heaven only knows. It’s a scandal of monumental proportions. The EVMs have already been the subject of much debate in this country, with the opposition in particular questioning the credibility of elections conducted using these Indian-made equipment without a paper trail. The ECN, more than anyone else, knows about these loud thunders of discontent, but in its own wisdom still went ahead and loaned out machines to a political party. And to make matters worse, the machines have been missing for 27 months. A political party hanging onto the machines for that long is already enough cause for alarm and suspicion. But the fact that the ECN did not get its equipment back within a reasonable time, and allowed Swapo to keep it for that long, taints the electoral body’s competence and integrity.

If the ECN cannot execute the easiest job of simply getting its machines back from a ‘client’, how can the public possibly trust it to competently conduct free and fair elections?

We are curious about who at the ECN and Swapo will be held accountable and what sanctions they will face for slumber on the job.

President Hage Geingob declared 2019 as a ‘Year of Accountability’. If anyone, especially his own party and state institutions, were ever listening, we wait in anticipation to see action.

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