Supreme Court must seal EVM debate

17 January 2020 | Opinion

Today the Supreme Court hears arguments about the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in Namibian elections, particularly those held on November 27 last year.

For too long the country has been polarised by the debate around EVMs, with critics of the Indian-made devices arguing that their use erode transparency. Proponents of the machines, including the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), argue that EVMs are perfect and usher the country into a new world of doing things.

The debate has raged for years and has seen numerous court challenges being lodged. Elections are the greatest element of our democratic dispensation and if the electoral process sparks trust issues, then it is time the country resolves the matter once and for all. We must be a country that resolves one issue and move on to the next instead of being perpetually stuck in emotional rhetoric. Here is a chance, with today's case, to reach consensus once and for all. Whether such consensus sprouts from an order declaring that there is nothing distrustful about using EVMs, or that the ECN must cease using them, we must embrace it. Right now we have a situation where losers complain about the use of EVMs, but jump in celebration like sungura dancers when the same devices deliver victory for them. It's not their fault.

But the country must get on a path of trust in its electoral processes. We should complain about long, slow voter queues or late opening of polling stations rather than the authenticity of electoral outcomes.

The people need to have trust in the process that handles their democratic choices and the Supreme Court has a chance to help enhance that belief and faith in our electoral process.

As the nation awaits with bated breath the outcome of the court application lodged by Panduleni Itula, it is imperative that everyone remains calm and collected. The ruling of the highest court in the land must be accepted and respected, for it carries the voice of ultimate authority.

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