Venaani complains to SADC

The official opposition will approach regional and international groupings about Namibia’s insistence on using ‘unreliable’ voting machines.

25 October 2019 | Politics

CATHERINE SASMAN



Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says he will be seeking a meeting with the SADC chairperson, Tanzanian president John Magufuli, to talk about the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) in Namibia’s upcoming general election.

Venaani said yesterday that EVMs used without a VVPAT cannot be trusted and that ballot papers should rather be used.

He said Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is the chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security cooperation, would also be in copied in the letter to Magufuli.

“We do not expect much of [Mnangagwa] given the fact that his democratic credentials are eroded in Zimbabwe, but we will nonetheless send him a copy of the letter as the chairperson of the SADC organ,” Venaani said.

He said he would similarly engage the SADC election observer mission, as well as the observer missions of the African Union (AU) and the Commonwealth on the matter.

Speaking at a media briefing yesterday, Venaani said the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) had initially promised that the EVMs would have a VVPAT, which never materialised.

This, he said, was while the EVMs continued to lose credibility in India, where they were manufactured.

They have also been rejected by at least 10 first-world countries, including the United States, Sweden, Germany and Italy.

“We were willing to use the EVMs with a paper trail,” he said, while castigating the ECN for seeking money from central government for administrative purposes, instead of introducing the VVPAT.

Venaani made it clear that the PDM was not withdrawing from participating in the elections, but said the party would “pressurise” the ECN to “go back to the ballot [paper]”.

“The EVMs have no credibility and here the EVMs are even stolen. If nations around the world are rejecting the EVMs, why should we trust them? The answers the ECN provided about the lost EVMs tell one that it is not in control,” Venaani said.

He called on PDM members and the public “to remain calm” while he engaged regional bodies.

Venaani said PDM was demanding that its party agents and representatives be allowed into the final collation or the verification centre at the ECN head office in Windhoek, where said election results were “cooked”.

Venaani claimed that only Swapo members like Erkki Nghimtina and Andrew Ndishishi, plus members of the country’s intelligence agency, were allowed in the verification centre after the 2014 elections, while other parties were kept out.

ECN head Theo Mujoro earlier this week said that party agents would be allowed inside the collation centre.

Venaani, however, insisted the ECN had promised to issue letters to parties that would allow party representatives inside the verification centre, but this had not happened.

“The ECN says we must trust them, but we do not trust them,” Venaani said.

Posters not allowed

The PDM also complained that Cenored would not allow it to put up its election posters on power poles at Swakopmund, Khorixas and Otjiwarongo before Swapo had put up its posters.

Venaani said the Swakopmund municipality indicated it did not want posters on its poles, presumably because the poles get damaged.

The City of Windhoek demanded payment of N$200 000 before allowing posters, and the Rehoboth town council would only allow 100 posters in seven streets, the PDM said.

“Cenored or whoever will not stop us from operating in a democratic country,” Venaani said.

“Cenored and all municipalities are hampering the democratic process. We ask that they please allow the democratic process to run smoothly.”

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