Swapo denies blame for missing EVMs

22 October 2019 | Politics

Swapo yesterday washed its hands of any blame concerning the missing electronic voting machines (EVMs) of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).

Party executive director Austin Samupwa said if anyone had to answer the tough questions in this regard, it should be the ECN.

The machines, according to an ECN statement on Sunday, were 'loaned' to Swapo for use in the July 2017 Swapo Party Elders' Council (SPEC) elective congress.

Twenty-seven months later, the machines have still not been returned to the ECN.

Samupwa, when reminded that Swapo had borrowed the machines, ducked the question on the grounds that he was not working for the party at the time of the agreement.

He did not say whether the party had handed back the machines to ECN and if so, when.

Meanwhile, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) director-general Paulus Noa says the matter is a criminal case that the Namibian police must handle it.

Outspoken activist Carola Engelbrecht said the ECN's chief electoral and referendum officer, Theo Mujoro, must be held accountable for the loss of the machines.

The electoral body said in a statement issued on Sunday that four control units and two ballot units has not been returned after the SPEC congress held at Outapi.

The ECN said it had a long-standing practice to lend EVMs to political parties, churches, trade unions, tertiary institutions, local authorities and schools to conduct their internal elections.

Mujoro yesterday refused to comment further on the issue.

“The ECN is not at liberty at this stage to divulge any further information on the missing EVM units given the ongoing police investigations,” he said.

The director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Toni Hancox, says the issue confirms the necessity of having some form of paper trail when using EVMs.

“Although whether this will completely respond to concerns about the manipulation of votes is also not 100% assured. More questions should be asked about the circumstances under which these EVMs went missing and how they were recovered. Perhaps addressed at our current minister of justice.”

The chief spokesperson of the Namibian police, Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, said the ECN must provide a case number if the matter had been reported to the police.

According to Kanguatjivi, the only police investigation he knows about is a piece of an EVM that was found outside Otjiwarongo in 2017.

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