Sunday, November 30, 2014

Namibia: Ruling party winning Africa's first electronic vote

Namibians voted on Friday in Africa's first electronic election that is expected see the SWAPO party extend its 24-year rule with people in the mineral-rich country seeking stability in the face of a global commodities downturn.
Namibia has one of Africa's healthiest economies and SWAPO, the former liberation movement that secured independence from South Africa, has maintained its popular support although dissent is growing over inequality and a lack of housing.
Despite an 11th hour challenge from the opposition over the lack of a paper trail from electronic voting, the election commission was using about 4,000 voting machines for the presidential and parliamentary vote instead of paper ballots.
In the booth, voters found a gray electronic device with pictures or logos of the candidates and a green button next to each one. Instead of marking a cross on paper, voters selected their choice by pressing the button.
"It is way better and faster," said voter Sara Isaacs.
While there is no history of electoral fraud in Namibia unlike in many of its neighbors, logistical problems meant the results from the vote in 2009 took a week to emerge. The election commission has this time promised them within 24 hours.
Elections director Paul Isaak said that instead of spending N$20 million ($1.81 million) printing ballots, this year the commission had achieved an "enormous saving" by spending just N$2 million ($181,000) on such paper - one for each voting machine.
More than 1.2 million people were eligible to vote.
Namibia is aiming to become the world's second-largest uranium producer after Kazakhstan with the construction of its Chinese-backed Husab mine, expected to start production in 2015.
The sparsely populated, southern African state has been one of the world's best performing economies and growth is forecast to rise to 5 percent in 2014 from 4.4 percent last year. But lower metal prices, especially for its key export uranium, poses a risk, according to Namibia's central bank.
In signs of discontent, more than 100 protesters called for land distribution last week, and the opposition Democratic Turnhalle Alliance has been attracting more support.
"We want a new president. We also want new changes for everything, more houses, more toilets and we are having a problem with jobs," said Johannes Gabriel, a security guard in the capital Windhoek.

But analysts say any dissent is unlikely to be enough to threaten SWAPO's hold over the presidency and its two-thirds majority in parliament in Namibia where it has ruled since independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990.

Namibia: Election results delayed

 Results for Namibia's national and presidential elections experienced delays as most polling stations only closed in the early hours of Saturday, to allow queuing voters to cast their vote.
By noon on Saturday, the Electoral Commission of Namibia had released results of one of the 121 constituencies in Namibia.
The ruling party, South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) received the highest number of votes with 66.8%, but it was 8.45% less than the 2009 elections.
The main opposition party, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), received 8.13%, about 3.18% less than five years ago.
In third place in the Gibeon constituency of the southern Hardap Region was the DTA Party (Democratic Turnhalle Alliance), with 7.73%, up by three percent from 4.56% in 2009.
The electoral act in Namibia stipulates that counted results of polling stations must be posted at each polling station.
They must be collated and verified at constituency and regional level before being sent to the election centre in Windhoek to be officially released.
The results for the presidential elections at three polling stations, seen by Sapa at two different polling stations in Windhoek, show that Swapo presidential candidate Hage Geingob received most votes.
In Namibia, the president is elected directly by the voters.
At the polling station of the Polytechnic of Namibia, a tertiary institution, results showed Geingob garnering 977 votes of about 1100 votes, followed by RDP president Hidipo Hamutenya with 249 votes.
Close on the heels is the DTA's youthful president McHenry Venaani, 37, who received 242 votes.
At the Augustineum government school in Khomasdal, in Windhoek, results posted outside the polling station showed that Geingob received 660 of about 900 votes, Venaani 67 votes and Hamutenya 56 votes.
Meanwhile, the leader of another opposition party, Ben Ulenga of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) blamed the electoral commission for delays at polls experienced on Friday was due to faulty voter verification scanners.
Ulenga called on the director of elections to step down.
"The elections have been a sham and a complete fiasco," Ulenga said.
"CoD calls for the immediate resignation of Paul Isaak as director of elections and the calling off of the current sham process. Truly credible, fair and worthy elections on the nearest possible date should be held," the CoD party said in a statement.
South Africa's International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the election process was very peaceful.
Nkoana-Mashabane arrived in Windhoek on Friday afternoon.
"Elections were very peaceful and other observations of the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) will be made public on Sunday," she told the public broadcaster, Namibia Broadcasting Corporation.


Namibia: Swapo expresses concern over Friday's polls

The South West Africa People's Organisation was concerned on Saturday that many voters were not able to cast their vote due to technical glitches.

"The Swapo Party has become aware of many voters who were turned away from polling stations across the country while expecting to cast their votes," Swapo information secretary Helmut Angula said in a statement.

"This is a worrying and disturbing situation. This could also affect the credibility of the elections.

"Swapo therefore demands that the electoral commission explain this situation and also assure the nation that this will not have a negative impact on the entire elections."

Results were trickling in at a snail's pace at the election centre in the capital Windhoek.

Problems with the functioning of hand held scanners verifying voter cards and fingerprints of voters caused huge delays with long queues at polls seen deep into the night on Friday.

"Voting at three polling stations ended on Saturday morning, including at the voting in the central prison of Windhoek," said chief election officer Paul Isaak.

Votes from only eleven of 121 constituencies had been verified and released.

Provisional results from some fifty polling stations indicated that Swapo received slightly fewer votes than in 2009.

A neck-on-neck race unfolded between the current official opposition party Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) and the DTA (Democratic Turnhalle Alliance) for second and third place.

A similar picture unfolded for the presidential race with incumbent Prime Minister Hage Geingob and Swapo candidate leading the vote.

The DTA president McHenry Venaani, 37, and Hidipo Hamutenya, 75, of RDP were competing for second and third positions respectively.


Namibia: U.S. congratulates Namibia on successful elections

Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "The United States congratulates the people of Namibia for exercising their democratic right to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections on November 28.

"Namibia has once again demonstrated its commitment to an open electoral process and respect for presidential term limits. We applaud the active participation of Namibia’s political parties, civil society, and citizens in shaping an inclusive discussion throughout the campaign. The extraordinary participation among first-time voters and women candidates reflects the progress that Namibia has made and the commitment of the Namibian people to a democratic future.

"The United States and Namibia share a strong partnership. We work together to strengthen health care systems, counter threats to Namibia’s unique ecosystems, promote peace and security in the region, and protect human rights for all of Namibia’s citizens, particularly the most vulnerable in society.

"The United States looks forward to continuing our partnership with the new Namibian Government and the people of Namibia in support of Namibia’s development and the welfare of its people." ~ John Kerry

Yuma New Now

Namibia: Observers advocates for training of poll officials

African Union (AU) election observers on Sunday recommended continuous training of election staff and simpler voting procedures for Namibia's future elections.

“The AU Election Observer Mission (AUEOM) encourages Namibia's electoral commission to consider simplifying polling station procedures like the voter identity verification process and ensure that training of staff on the use of technology in elections is continuous to further improve their ability to operate the equipment,” Fatuma Ndangiza, head of the AUEOM, said.

“The electoral commission is encouraged to consider limiting the number of voters per polling station to reduce waiting times and overcrowding at some polling stations.”

The AU observers also encouraged the Namibian government to “ratify the African Charter on Democracy and Elections to further strengthen and entrench democratic governance in Namibia in line with its international obligations.

Ndangiza commended Namibia for “taking the bold step” as the first African nation to adopt the use of electronic voter machines.

Like the SADC observer mission, the AU group recommended that a code of conduct be drawn up for media reporting on elections.

Namibia does not have media laws as the media fraternity is self-regulated with a code of ethics and a media ombudsman.

The AU deployed 30 election observers to ten of Namibia's 14 regions.

The AUEOM would compile its final report on Namibia's elections within two months of the announcement of results.

South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) presidential candidate Hage Geingob on Sunday afternoon led with 84 percent of the 12.6 percent votes officially released so far followed by McHenry Venaani of the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) with 7.1 percent.

Hidipo Hamutenya of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) third in the race with 3.7 percent.

Geingob scored more votes than his ruling Swapo which so far garnered 71.4 percent of votes releases so far (12.6 percent), 3.8

percent less than during the 2009 elections.

The DTA party scored 6.97 percent, up from 3.8 percent five years ago. Third in the race is the RDP with 4.78 percent.

RDP lost 6.53 percent from its 11.3 percent achieved during its 2009 election debut.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Namibia: Slow start to elections

Voting started slowly across Namibia this morning as Namibians elect a new president and the National Assembly. Many polling stations opened late, some for as much as an hour and no explanations were given. Polling stations were supposed to open at 07h00.

When Swapo candidate Hage Geingob arrived at the Katutura Community Hall in central Katutura the scanners were down.

In the Agste Laan informal settlement in the west of Windhoek the polling station was not opened by 08h30 and polling officers ignored shouts by frustrated voters. Some voters left the queue in frustration.

In Luderitz, the polling station opened at around 08h00 but the voting process is described as going smoothly. It takes about 10 minutes for the entire voting process.

'Election Watch Namibia', a Facebook page operated by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) posted on Facebook that "the impression from various reports sent to 'Election Watch' is that the process this year is slower than people's experience with paper ballots in the past. And we are voting in one day for the first time this year..."

About 500 people were in line at the DRC school project polling station when the doors opened for the first time. A voter calling himself Likeus was the first to cast his vote there.

He said he has been waiting since 03h00.

Outgoing president Hifikepunye Pohamba cast his vote at Suiderhof just after 08h00.

DTA presidential candidate McHenry Venaani caused a bit of a scene at Baines Shopping Centre in Pioneerspark. He said he wasn't sure that his vote was counted as there was no light going on or off. He said ECN should explain these things clearly.

In Oshakati, voters were asked to remove nail polish before they could vote.

Also, in Oshakati, voters had to wait for the ECN regional coordinator to fix some EVMs after polling officers failed.

In Cimbebasia a scanner was broken, at Martti Ahtisaari school in Katutura and at Delta High School in Olympia the EVMs were not functioning.

At Eros Post Office there was no electricity.

Voting at Arandis' three polling stations were described as peaceful but still slow. Senior citizens were asked to go to the front of the queue.

There was a one hour delay at the Collin Foundation School polling station when a verification scanner broke down.

Arandis mayor Daniel Muhuura tried to arrange a spare scanner with the Arandis constituency officer of the ECN who was at Henties Bay at the time. Henties Bay is about 70 km from Arandis. To avoid complete stagnation till the spare arrived, it was decided to do the verification manually using the voters role.

Polling stations at Khorixas opened on time.

Fillepus Huibeb (70), from Outjo said, "I did not know how to use the EVMs but I was assisted."

Engenesia Haraes (52), said there was no problem using the EVMs as she saw how to use it on TV. Haraes said it was easier than the ballot paper and that she voted in the hope of more development of Khorixas.

Saara /Gawises (86), from Blomhof, which is 25 km from Khorixas, said she was happy with the process and there was no difference between the EVMs and the ballot box system.

/Gawises said she voted to air her problems so that the government can assist them.

Dudu Murorua, vice president of UDF, said the ballot box system was quicker than voting with EVMs but said counting might be quicker with EVMs.

"It is a learning exercise for almost everybody," said Murorua, who voted at Khorixas.

Voting at the Eenhana Community Centre, in Ohangwena Region, started on time.

Young and old all showed up to make sure their voices are heard. For 20-year-old Gerson David, voting is so important since he believes that it is the only time he can decide who to put in power.

Seventy-four-year-old Maria Kavela came to vote because she is grateful for the pension money she receives.

"The only problem I have is the drought relief that we do not receive," she said, adding that she can also breathe a sigh of relief as they do not have to pay school fees an longer.

Several polling stations at Keetmanshoop experienced some technical problems resulting in long queues.

The WK Rover and Suiderlig High School polling station opened almost two hours late due to problems to set the voting machines after pre-poll demonstration.

"When we reset the voting machine, the names of some party candidates did not appear on it," said presiding officer Rosalin Keramen.

Though the Moth Hall poling station opened on time, the voting prowess went slowly due to some technical problems.

"The machine (EVM) is again out of order. We're close to 180 voters and it took almost eight minutes for one person to vote. Now everything again has come to a standstill," said a voter who refused to be named.

//Karas Region governor, Bernadus Swartbooi, who voted at the WK Hall poling station in Tseiblaagte at 08h30 said voting delays were expected.

"Technology has its own challenges," said Swartbooi.

ECN spokesperson, Vikitoria Hango said they received reports that officers did not set up the machines as they were trained to.

She said: "Officers did not clear the electronic voting machines (EVM) after the pre-poll test that was conducted at 06h00."

The Namibian

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Namibia: Voting underway in landmark e-voting

Voting began on Friday in Namibia's presidential and legislative elections, in a vote that is expected to see liberation party the South West People's Organisation (SWAPO) retain power.

Voters at Katutura township, outside the capital Windhoek, formed long lines before daybreak, including some first time "born free" voters -- those born after independence in 1990.

"It's a rich country with poor people, so I hope there is more balance," said 43-year-old Elias while waiting to cast his vote.

Polls opened at 07:00 local time (0500 GMT) and close around 14 hours later in the latest closing stations.

The country's fifth election since independence is billed as first e-vote in Africa, with 1.2 million people expected to cast their ballots electronically.


Namibia: SADC observer mission head praises Namibia

South Africa's Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has praised Namibia for its commitment to multi-party democracy by holding successive free and fair elections since independence.

While launching the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Election Observer Mission (SEOM) to Namibia's general elections, Nkoana-Mashabane described Namibia as a “young and vibrant democracy”.

“These, the 5th national democratic elections since independence in 1990, are significant and consistent with democratic practice in terms of regular elections,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.

“The people of Namibia have shown commitment to multi-party democracy, and elections are an important exercise in pluralism and are an essential element in the democratic process.”

She noted that the electoral process is fundamental to any competitive democracy as it allows eligible voters to express their political will and choice.

“The upcoming electoral process therefore capacitates and enables the voters to own and identify with a democratic political system, its structures and institutions,” she said.

Nkoana-Mashabane heads a 90 member SADC electoral observation team, which is in the country to witness the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

 The Namibian

Namibian: Fresh bid to stop tomorrow's elections

WITH just 24 hours before the national elections, the RDP and the Workers Revolutionary Party yesterday launched an appeal against the Windhoek High Court verdict, which dismissed their bid to stop the elections.
In both the High Court application and the appeal, the litigants with the support of August Maletzky's African Labour and Human Rights Centre cited the Electoral Commission of Namibia and the government as first and second respondents.

However, a third litigant, the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF), have also thrown their weight behind the two parties in their last attempt to stop the elections in the Supreme Court.

NEFF national coordinator Kalimbo Iipumbu confirmed that they are now part of the litigants, while ECN lawyer Sisa Namandje also confirmed that they were served with the appeal papers yesterday.

Namandje, however, said the appeal will not have any effect on tomorrow's elections, after High Court Acting Judge Kobus Miller's verdict which dismissed the application lodged on Monday with costs.

“The status quo remains that the elections will take place as per the ruling by the High Court,” Namandje said.

In their High Court applications, the litigants pleaded for the elections to be postponed to February 2015, charging that the results from the EVMs would be rigged, but Acting Judge Miller dismissed the application saying it had come at the eleventh hour, and that some of the arguments around the voting machines were speculative.

ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja welcomed yesterday's ruling, while ECN director Paul Isaak said that with the backing from the High Court, they can now move on to conduct free and fair elections with no interruptions, adding that the court case was 'disturbing'.

Isaak also said the public now had no reason to doubt the competence of the Indian-made electronic voting machines after the ruling.

The verdict means that tomorrow's elections will go ahead as planned, using the disputed electronic voting machines without a paper trail.

Maletzky told The Namibian yesterday that it would be unlawful for the elections to be allowed to continue after an appeal to stop the process has been filed.

“I'm not the one saying that, but it is stipulated in the law. Once we sign that application, the elections are not supposed to go ahead,” he charged.

In a press statement yesterday, RDP president Hidipo Hamutenya supported the argument to postpone the elections.

The judgment is subject to appeal in the Supreme Court of Namibia and should, in terms of the law, suspend the elections until after the Supreme Court pronounces itself thereon,” Hamutenya argued.

Hamutenya said that despite the outcome, his party will still participate in the upcoming elections, but with fears that the credibility of the elections will be undermined because the results will not be able to be verified by the voters and the parties.

The litigants are now sitting with a massive legal bill estimated to be between N$300 000 and N$400 000 after acting Judge Miller ordered them to pay the legal costs.

“I don't come cheap,” Namandje bragged yesterday when The Namibian asked how much he was likely to charge.

Presidential affairs minister and Attorney General Albert Kawana told the South African media that although the ruling did not come as a surprise, the call by the applicants to stop the elections was a deliberate attempt to disrupt the process of democracy.

He called it a scandal.

“I'm just disappointed by the move taken by the applicants to stop the elections at this late hour,” he said, adding that the same people had reservations about the ballot papers used during the 2009 elections, as well as complaining that the old system was too complicated.

“We went out of our way as government to make things easier by purchasing these machines, now they want to turn around again and disrupt the process,” he said. “They want to claim that the EVMs are faulty without any technical knowledge about how they operate.”

Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development Charles Namoloh, who was the 16th respondent, said the applicants claim to represent the people yet have very few followers.

Namoloh also said that the group in question only wanted to look for reasons to reject possible defeat once the election results are announced.

The Namibian

Namibia: Meet the 9 presidential candidates

Namibia will go to the polls tomorrow to elect a president for the next five years. According to the ECN, only 9 out of the 16 registered parties are contesting in the presidential election.

The all-male candidates include Swapo’s Hage Geingob, Hidipo Hamutenya of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the DTA’s McHenry Venaani, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters’ (NEFF’s) Epafras Mukwiilongo and Swanu’s Usutuaije Maamberua.
Also in the race for State House are the Congress of Democrats’ (CoD’s) Ben Ulenga, the All People’s Party’s (APP’s) Ignatius Shixwameni, National Unity Democratic Organisation’s (Nudo’s) Asser Mbai and the Republican Party’s (RP’s) Henk Mudge.

The 73-year-old Geingob was elected as Swapo’s presidential candidate at the party’s elective congress in 2012, the same year in which he ascended to portfolio of Prime Minister.
He was also the country’s first Prime Minister from 1990 to 2002, after which he was demoted to Minister of Regional and Local Government by former President Sam Nujoma, a position he refused and resigned from government.
He made a comeback in 2008, when President Hifikepunye Pohamba appointed him as Minister of Trade and Industry, a position he held until his rise to prime minister. A year before that, Geingob was elected as Swapo vice-president.
His rise to power in Swapo was rocked by internal turbulence which resulted in allegations of threats against his life.
The 75-year-old leader of the official opposition, RDP, Hamutenya was a long-time member of Swapo until 2007 when he formed his own party.
Hamutenya and others managed to ensure that RDP won eight seats in the National Assembly in the 2009 general election.
Despite internal strife in the RDP and talk of some of his trusted generals trying to unseat him, Hamutenya remains popular in the party and retained his position at an elective convention late last year.
He was a Swapo member of Cabinet from independence to 2004.
At 37 Venaani is the youngest of this year’s presidential candidates and a former MP on the DTA ticket. He became candidate after being endorsed by the party following his victory over former party leader Katuutire Kaura last year.
He became the youngest Namibian MP yet when he was sworn into the National Assembly in 2003, and the previous year he was elected DTA secretary-general.
At the age of 18 was elected as the youngest member of the DTA Central Committee.
Following his election to party president last year, he was faced with conflicts and confrontation from his predecessor and former mentor Kaura.
Ulenga, 62, also hails from Swapo where he served as both minister and as an ambassador. When that party changed the constitution to give former President Nujoma a third term, Ulenga and others formed the CoD in 1999.
His first presidential candidacy on a CoD ticket was as the leader of the official opposition. Although the party no longer enjoys that status, he has remained popular in the party and is still in the driver’s seat.
However, some of his fellow founding members of the CoD left him following party infighting, leading to some forming the APP and others becoming politically inactive. Currently, Ulenga is the only MP for the CoD.
A former student activist, Shixwameni, 48, formed the APP after breaking away from the CoD along with 21 other members in 2007.
He was elected the CoD’s chief whip in the National Assembly in 2000 and managed to make a mark for the APP by winning one seat in the House.
Before the CoD, Shixwameni was a Swapo Youth League leader from 1987 to 1999 and a Swapo Central Committee member from 1992 to 1997.
Swanu’s Maamberua, 57, is an accountant by profession and also worked for the State as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and was elected Swanu president in 2007.
Under Maamberua the party managed to get its first National Assembly seat in the 2009 general election, a seat which he occupies.
He is also serving as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
The 62-year-old Mudge resigned from the National Assembly in 2011 after winning a seat in the 2009 general election. He had been the RP’s only representative in that House after breaking away from the DTA in 2003.
He is a former Khomas regional councillor.
Earlier this year Mudge announced that he would not stand for the presidential election this year and urged all RP members and supporters to vote for Swapo’s Geingob.
However, this week, he changed his mind and announced his intention to challenge Geingob as presidential candidate next month.
Mbai, 64, took over the reins of Nudo following the death of party leader Kuaima Riruako in June this year. At the time he was the party’s vice-president and in terms of the party constitution he has to complete Riruako’s term.
Mbai replaced Mburumba Kerina in the National Assembly following Kerina's falling out with the party over the use of government funds and before that he was the regional councillor for Okakarara.
There had been talk that Mbai would not contest the presidential election and was allegedly considering throwing his weight behind Geingob, but this was refuted by him and the party.
Mukwiilongo, 42, was part of Swapo until he formed the NEFF in the middle of this year after resigning from his former political home.
The party is styled along the lines of controversial South African politician’s Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Mukwiilongo, a businessman, and his commissars have been called jokers by Swapo but he says the party plans to transform the economy by nationalising the country’s resources.

The Namibian Sun

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Namibia: Court dismisses opposition challenge to stop elections

Windhoek — The Windhoek High Court on Wednesday dismissed an urgent application brought by three opposition parties asking it to postpone Friday's parliamentary and presidential elections.

"The applicants were in possession of documents about the issues brought before the court by 20 October, but brought them here a month later, no reasons were given why they did not file the application earlier, no case was made for urgency," Judge Kobus Miller said, reading from his ruling.

"With regard to the application to stop the electoral commission from using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and to disallow suspension clauses contained in the recently promulgated elections act in order to stop the use of EVMs, I say that in South Africa it is not unusual for the powers to determine the date on which enactments laws or sections of them will come into effect.

"In Namibia it is [also] often the case that the power to determine this is left with the administrative arm of the executive dealing with legislation,"

Applicant August Maletzky argued on Tuesday that the EVMs should not be used in Friday's elections, as they did not produce a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast.

This was stipulated in the new elections act, but a suspension clause provided for the later introduction of EVMs with paper printouts.

"The respondents do not dispute that the EVMs to be used do not print a paper receipt after each vote. The facts about this brought by the applicants are speculative in their nature. The final determination of facts for a court is to go by evidence of respondents. I am satisfied that on facts before me the use of the current EVMs will not impair the constitutional rights of voters.

"The court application is dismissed with costs," Miller ruled.

Maletzky called the ruling a "miscarriage of justice".

"We expected that. There is no independent judiciary in this country," he told Sapa.

"We will now turn to the Supreme Court and file an application there."

Maletzky runs the African Labour and Human Rights Centre and prepared the application for the main opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), and the recently formed Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) party.

Attorney General Albert Kawana, who is also minister of presidential affairs, was satisfied with the ruling.

"I am not surprised by the outcome," he told reporters immediately after the judgment in the courtroom.

Elections are slated for this coming Friday, when 1.24 million eligible voters will elect a new government.


Namibia: Elections challenge verdict today

A Windhoek High Court judge will deliver judgement today on the challenge to postpone the elections made by the Rally for Democracy and Progress and the Workers' Revolutionary Party.

Acting Judge Kobus Miller, who heard the case yesterday, said given the urgency of the application the ruling will be made not later than 10h00 today.

The application is considered a matter of urgency since there are only two days left before the Presidential and National Assembly elections are held.

The two litigants, beefed-up by the African Labour and Human Rights Centre and its director August Maltezky, lodged the application on Monday, calling on the High Court to entertain their plight to postpone the elections to February 2015.

They argue that given the electronic voting machines' lack of the required paper trail, their use in the national elections should be discontinued.

They are also accusing the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) of failing to act in the best interest of democracy by making use of the India manufactured machines despite the concerns raised.

The first respondents - the ECN and the government - are being represented by prominent lawyer Sisa Namandje, who based his argument on the fact that the applicants had ample time to bring their case before the court, but chose to do it two days before the elections.

The other respondents are the 14 political parties.

The two political parties, Maletzky and his organisation, are also calling on the court to declare all the by-elections and elections of 2014, where the EVMs were used, as null and void.

Some experts have said this might backfire on RDP in particular since the party has participated in the recent by-elections where the EVMs were used.

The court challenge comes after the three applicants said they wrote letters to the ECN expressing their reservations over the use of the EVMs both in the by-elections and general elections and that although the electoral body did not deny the allegations, they did not discontinue their use either.

"The ECN will be sending the Namibian people to the polls knowing very well that should there be a court dispute, the results of the elections will not be verified," argued Maletzky.

Yesterday, Maletzky told a packed court that in a constitutional democracy like Namibia, the proclamation to delay provisions made in the Constitution is undemocratic and might allow some parties to rob Namibians of free and fair elections. He singled out ECN and the Swapo party.

"If this urgent application is not entertained by the court, it will cause harm to the applicants and the electorate at large," he argued.

Leader of the WRP Hewat Beukes said they do not "want machines that are manufactured by foreigners to be used in the country's elections".

"We don't want somebody in India who programmed these machines to decide our future," he told the court.

Both Maletzky and Beukes dubbed the EVMs as alien since they were not locally manufactured and could not be trusted.

"Strong western democracies such as Britain, Germany and the US have banned the use of these machines in their countries," argued Beukes.

Maletzky and his team also reopened the Third Constitutional Amendment debate, which they argued was unconstitutional without public consultation.

"A failure to do so amounts to lip-service to the public," argued Maleztky, adding that there was no truth in government claiming that the public was consulted.

"It is impossible to consult the public within a period of three months," he charged.

RDP president Hidipo Hamutenya also denied that he was consulted," he said.

Namandje hit back at Maletzky saying the Constitution does not stipulate that the public should be consulted during legislative processes, although it stipulates that the public shall take part in all political activities.

He further said the application should be dismissed with costs on various grounds, including the fact that the by-elections had already been held using the EVMs.

Several opposition parties who have also been named as respondents say they are supporting the application.

"We also wanted to be part of the applicants but we were late. They have a good point," said Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters' Olsen Kahiriri yesterday.

Earlier in the day, the case was postponed to 11h30 due to the fact that not all respondents had been served with the court papers.

The Namibian

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Namibia: Electoral body needs 600 additional poll vehicles

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) still needs 600 vehicles for Friday’s one-day national elections, a situation which has left the commission with no choice but to approach private vehicle owners to avert an election crisis.

Following the ECN’s announcement last week that for it to successfully carry out the upcoming elections, it needs about 2 800 vehicles, the commission’s director for operations Theo Mujoro yesterday informed New Era that there was still a shortfall of 600 vehicles as the ECN only had 2 200 vehicles for use in the elections.

“We received most of the vehicles we need, apart from some regions where we have a shortfall. We will engage private vehicle owners to meet our shortfall. The shortfall varies from region to region but in total we need about 600 vehicles,” said Mujoro.

He said private vehicle owners were being engaged to make use of their vehicles at a fee to be agreed upon by both the commission and the vehicle owners.

On Friday 1.2 million voters will go to the polls to vote in both the presidential and National Assembly elections.

Kunene Region as of yesterday was still in need of 40 vehicles to ensure the election teams in the region have vehicles to take them around the region on Friday. This was confirmed by the ECN’s regional coordinator Ismael Ouseb in Opuwo.

Two of the teams will be making use of two army helicopters to access remote villages that are inaccessible by road.

Ouseb said the region is still in need of 40 vehicles to secure the transport needs of all 141 teams across the region, but added that he remained hopeful that the vehicles would be acquired before Friday as the ECN has already approached line ministries to provide assistance in the form of transport.

“We have strategized on how to handle the mobile teams, a possible plan B is also in place and consultations are underway with various government agencies who could assist us with vehicles,” said Ouseb.

The ECN will man a total of 1 255 fixed and 2 711 mobile polling stations totalling 3 966 across the country.

Similarly, the ECN will deploy 1 255 fixed teams and 825 teams to serve the 2 711 mobile stations, making a total of 2 080 teams across the 121 constituencies nationally. In addition, the ECN appointed 42 regional coordinators and assistant coordinators as well as 121 returning officers.

ECN will deploy approximately 140 IT support staff across the country to provide much needed technical support in the field. All in all, close to 13 000 ECN officials will be deployed to perform duty at various levels of the electoral operations.

ECN is not new to last-minute hitches and it was recently reported that the ECN was still to acquire election materials such as polling booths and chairs less than two months (at the time of reporting) before the much-anticipated national elections.

New Era

Namibia: Electoral body boss accused of nepotism

THE Electoral Commission of Namibia representative in //Karas, Barendt Both, is being accused of nepotism to ensure a family member was appointed to work as polling officer during Friday's Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Disgruntled jobless residents,who flocked since last Thursday to the Suiderlig High School recruitment centre to replace successful applicants who did not turn up to take up the ECN job offer, claimed Both apparently influenced the appointment of his son Barendt Both.

They charged Both pushed for his son's appointment, although he had not even applied for the job.

One of the jobless residents explained that Both's son was among the hundreds who had not applied for the polling officers position, but who flocked to the recruitment centre hoping to be offered a job to replace successful residents who did not turn up.

“Just a few hours after his name was put on the waiting list, Both's son was offered the job,” a visibly angry resident said, adding this was a clear indication that Both junior was “favoured” as he was offered the job at the expense of some of those who first put their names on the waiting list.

During the November 2009 elections, accusations of nepotism were also levelled against //Karas ECN management for allegedly having appointed their wives, friends and relatives.

Both yesterday acknowledged that his son was appointed as polling officer, but rejected claims that he had influenced his appointment.

“I am neither responsible for the recruitment nor did I influence my son's appointment,” Both countered.

According to Both, his son was appointed by the ECN head office after being selected from the waiting list of 237 potential candidates to replace 73 successful applicants, who did not up to accept the job offer.

Both also stressed that none of those on the waiting list had applied for the polling officer job.

“They are telling ECN officials that they were phoned to report for duty, but when we verify with the HR office in Windhoek, we are told that their names did not appear on the list of successful applicants,” said Both.

Both also revealed that although the application requirement clearly stipulates that applicants should only apply for positions in the constituency where they live, more than 50 applicants who hailed from other regions were appointed by the ECN to work in the //Karas region during Friday's elections.

“Some of them even asked us to provide them with accommodation,” said Both.

The Namibian

Monday, November 24, 2014

Namibia: Opposition parties goes to court to stop Friday's elections

THE Rally for Democracy and Progress, the Workers Revolutionary Party and an active lay litigant in Namibia's courts, are calling for the Electoral Court to stop the national elections at the end of this week.
The case in which the RDP, WRP, lay litigant August Maletzky and his organisation, the African Labour & Human Rights Centre are trying to get the election put on hold until February next year is due to be heard in the electoral Court in Windhoek on Tuesday.

The two political parties, Maletzky and the centre, want the court to declare all the by-elections and elections of 2014, where the voters had to use EVM's so far, as null and void, direct the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), which is the first respondent, to run a transparent and credible election on or before the end of February 2015 or within a reasonable time period as the court sees fit. They also want ECN to discontinue the use of the EVM's without the utilisation of a variable paper trail for every vote cast by a voter, amongst other demands. The applicants have also named all the other fourteen other parties as respondents in the application, as well as the government, which is the second respondent.

In an affidavit filed with the court, Maletzky claims that the use of EVMs without a verifiable paper trail would leave the door open for election rigging.

Maletzky claims that “in view of previous elections characterised by election fraud and rigging by the Ruling Party Swapo, and the Election Commission of Namibia, the sinister and scandalous motives underwriting the deliberate purchase of these EVM'S become clearer i.e. to rig the elections”, (sic) he said.

Reacting to the application, Law Reform and Development Commission chairperson Sacky Shanghala on Monday said their application was totally “outlandish to say the least”.

“They participated in the previous by-elections so there's no urgency in the application,” he said yesterday.

The Namibian

Namibia: Opposition bemoans absence of voters' roll

DTA president McHenry Venaani has informed the SADC election observer mission that his party still has not been provided with the voters’ roll.
“It’s a recurrent problem before every election,” Venaani said.
He demanded that the voter register be made available immediately.
Venaani also mentioned to the SADC observers who were present at a DTA rally held on Saturday at the John Nankudhu Sport Field in Wanaheda that no political party other than Swapo is allowed to hoist flags on trees and in other public places in the Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions.
He reported that his party came second to Swapo in early election results from the foreign missions, especially in the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
He called on the audience to first vote for the country and then the political party of their choice.
“Vote for Namibia so that the country cannot be sold to the Chinese interest,” he said.
He added that he and the DTA are demanding foreign direct investment and they are not going to sell the country to anyone.
“We say no to the establishment of any Chinese or American military bases in this country,” he emphasised.
He further said that there are no Namibian manual labourers in any Asian country and wanted to know why Chinese manual labourers are given visas to Namibia.
Venaani promised greater emphasis on vocational training under a DTA government so that Namibians can equally compete in the labour market. He promised to create youth venture capital so that youth can start small businesses to create jobs.
He said there is a land crisis and that Windhoek has become the property of the city councillors.
“One of the projects under the DTA government will be urban resettlement to ensure that the poor can own land. We shall also subsidise first-time home owners,” he promised.
He said his government would provide more serviced land through public-private partnerships.
According to him Swapo has become a party of the elite, who have forgotten that the youth have no jobs.
“New parliament [building] to the tune of N$700 million is planned and what is budgeted for development? We do not need a new jet aircraft!” he stressed.
Jennifer van der Heever, chairman of the DTA, shared with the audience what she described as the DTA’s honest vision and mission to move the nation’s socio-economic agenda forward.
According to her, transformation and renewal in any political organisation is essential towards ensuring continued relevance in an ever-changing world.
“In a changing world, the election of the DTA president on September 9, 2013 was a resounding call for transformation and renewal in the organisation,” she said.
She maintained that a young and dynamic leadership is needed to drive transformation in the DTA, to ensure that the party is relevant to the needs of the Namibian electorate and to re-establish it as a significant force in the local political context.
Van der Heever said the transformation is also aimed at providing Namibians with a credible and viable political alternative to the current ruling party.

“For the love of our beloved Namibia, the DTA would like to see that issues and concerns of national interest will receive top priority,” she said.

The Namibian Sun

Namibia: Kavango East receives election materials

The Kavango East Region yesterday received 429 electronic voting machines (EVMs) and 284 EVM control units in preparation for this Friday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

The region received full election materials according to the election coordinator for Kavango East, Michael Kabwata, who confirmed receipt of the consignment after verification was conducted at the Rundu police station.

The materials were offloaded by police force members upon arrival from Windhoek and will be kept at the police station until they are dispatched for polling points later this week.

“The region so far has received the full required EVMs for all our 142 teams,” Kabwata said yesterday.

“We also invited political party representatives to go through the verification process with us,” he added.

Kabwata said the mobile teams will be deployed on November 26 and the fixed teams on November 27. “We are still busy working on transport issues but we are ready,” Kabwata said.

Kabwata also confirmed that they have had no problems working with political party representatives. “The cooperation between our office and political parties so far – honestly speaking, we do not have problems as well as with other stakeholders,” he said.

The materials are going to be shared by six constituencies across Kavango East and all constiuencies will have fixed teams as well as mobile teams, which will move from place to place.

Mashare Constituency will receive 70 EVM control units and 108 EVM ballot units, which will be used by 35 teams of mobile and fixed polling officials, while Mukwe Constituency will receive 54 EVM control units and 81 EVM ballot units, which will be used by 27 teams.

Ndiyona Constituency will receive 54 EVM ballot units and 36 EVM control units, which will be used by 18 teams and Ndonga Linena Constituency will receive 48 EVM control units and 72 EVM ballot units, which will be used by 24 teams of polling officials.

Rundu Rural Constituency will get 46 EVM control units and 69 ballot units to be used by 23 polling teams, while Rundu Urban will get 45 EVM ballot units with 30 EVM control units and will be used by 15 polling teams.

Kabwata urged eligible voters to get ready to vote come Friday 28 November.

New Era