ECN did not learn from its mistakes

03 December 2019 | Politics

A political analyst has described the Electoral Commission of Namibia's handling of last week's national and presidential elections as appalling.

The elections were marred by malfunctioning electronic voting machines (EVMs) and problems with the voter verification process, which led to slow-moving queues at most polling stations. Institute for Public Policy Research executive director Graham Hopwood says the ECN did not manage the elections in the best way. “The way the ECN has handled this election in terms of transparency and openness has been appalling. The long delays and silences have fuelled fake news and conspiracy theories,” he said. Hopwood said the ECN apparently had learned nothing from its earlier mistakes. “It seems like they have learnt nothing from the 'EVMs falling off a trailer' saga, which they covered up for two years before only admitting the details when they were exposed by a newspaper report,” said Hopwood. Disgraced former justice minister Sakeus Shangala claimed that the missing EVMs, which had been borrowed by Swapo for an internal election, had fallen from a truck. Constitutional law expert Professor Nico Horn also felt that the ECN could have been more transparent, adding that he expected results to be released regularly as they became available. “The ECN must be open and transparent and updates should be given regularly. The longer you wait, the more rumours will start spreading,” he said. Horn also expressed concern about the absence of opposition parties when it was announced that President Hage Geingob had won the presidential vote. National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) leader Esther Miunjangue was the only opposition leader in attendance when ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro announced the results on Saturday evening.

“I am worried at the reaction of the Popular Democratic Movement and Landless People's Movement, who all boycotted the announcement of the results,” Horn said.

The two parties have accused the ECN of rigging the elections in favour of Swapo and Geingob, who was under pressure from the only independent presidential candidate, Panduleni Itula.

Horn said it was a good sign that political parties could campaign without restrictions in some areas of the country. In 2008, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) was not allowed to hold a rally in Okuryangava in Windhoek.

No such incident occurred during campaigning for this year's elections. “This year there were no no-go zones. It is a good sign, we are maturing,” Horn said.

Stockbroking firm PSG Konsult said there was no evidence that the elections were rigged. “Observer missions expressed satisfaction with the process,” the firm said.

OGONE TLHAGE

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