Election littered with glitches

28 November 2019 | Politics

Several glitches with electronic voting machines (EVMs), the voter verification process and generally slow-moving queues marred a relatively peaceful 2019 general election in Namibia.

There were also complaints that the buttons on EVMs did not line up with the candidates and parties contesting the presidential and National Assembly elections, while at the coast an EVM allegedly fell from a table and officials couldn't get it to work again.

It is not clear what the Electoral Commission of Namibia intended to do with votes that were already cast using the broken EVM.

Officials scanning voter cards at the Khomasdal community hall complained that the new cards were difficult to scan, while those from 2014 were easily recognised by the system.

At the Red Cross Kindergarten in Katutura, there were several complaints about queues not moving fast enough and voters trying to sneak their way into the polling station ahead of those who had been there much earlier.

At the Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo polling station in Oshana a voter verification device (VVD) rejected regional governor Elia Irimari's voter card, but he was allowed to cast his vote after filling in a declaration.

President Hage Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos voted at Mandume Primary School in the capital shortly after 07:00.

Geingob's fiercest rival in the presidential race, Panduleni Itula, also voted at the same centre.

Geingob afterwards said: “Whoever wins, we accept, hug each other and move on. If I lose I will accept defeat.”

Soon after they voted, Vice-president Nangolo Mbumba also voted at the same venue.

Dentist Itula said he was confident of a landslide victory.

Former president Sam Nujoma voted at the Eros Children's Home in the Windhoek East constituency.

He said he was confident that Geingob would emerge victorious in the presidential race, while Swapo would dominate to the National Assembly poll.

Another former president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, cast his vote at the Auas Hills old-age home in Windhoek.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani voted at the Hadino Hishongwa polling station in the Goreangab Dam area in Windhoek, and said afterwards his party would surprise many.

Landless People's Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi voted in Khomasdal, his residential neighbourhood.

In Kavango East, many polling stations opened at around 07:00 apart from the Sauyemwa Primary School polling station which opened at around 08:00 due to a technical error with the EVM's control unit. A technician was called in to fix it.

Namibian Sun also communicated with a number of young people on the street who said they were not going to vote, primarily because of the long queues and, secondly, because they do not see any point in voting.

Sebastian Nginga, spoken to at the Dr Romanus Kampungu Secondary School polling station, said: “Being a Namibian, knowing the whole history of the country which includes what our forefathers did and went through to earn us this right to vote, is the reason why I am here to vote as I am honouring their sacrifices so that we have a better tomorrow.”

Magreth Mathe da Rocha at the Dr Alpo Mbamba Junior Secondary School polling station remarked: “The way I feel about this year's election is wonderful because it is a dynamic election and I am happy to be amongst this year's voters. This is the opportunity for us to make a difference through our votes.”

Augustinus Poroto, speaking to Namibian Sun at Rundu Beach, said he visited the recreation spot in order to carefully think of who to vote for.

“I just want to get my thoughts together as I am about to go and make an important decision. I am just giving myself some minutes just to reflect on my decision.

“Unfortunately I met a few young guys who indicated that they are not going to vote. Most of them are saying because they believe their vote is meaningless.”

The ECN was scheduled to have a press conference late yesterday evening, but it was unclear what it would be about.

STAFF REPORTERS

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