Monday, December 1, 2014

Namibian: Head of SADC observer mission verbally attacked

MEMBERS of the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters yesterday disrupted a meeting of regional observers when they verbally attacked the head of the SADC Electoral Observer Mission (SEOM).

The commotion erupted shortly after SEOM head Maithe Nkoane-Masha- bane, who is also the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, declared Namibia's Presidential and National Assembly Elections as being free, fair and cred- ible at a well-attended press briefing.

But it seems the news was not well-received by NEFF members who stood up yelling that there was nothing credible about the elections.

NEFF spokesperson Olsen Kahiriri yelled at Nkoane-Mathabane to stop saying the elections were 'credible'. “You cannot say the elections are credible!” Kahiriri lashed out.

Kahiriri and his comrades in their red uniforms and berets were asked to leave when they repeatedly yelled and disrupted Nkoane-Mathabane's speech.

Regional election observers praised Namibia for its innovation as the first African country to conduct elections using electronic voting machines despite many earlier complaints even by the Swapo Party on the use of the machines.

Both SEOM and the African Union Election Observation Mission (AU- EOM) declared the country's Sixth Presidential and National Assembly elections as “free, fair, transparent and credible” even before the final results were officially announced yesterday.

The SADC observer team, however, suggested that the ECN should set aside a special day for the security personnel including police officers and soldiers and other essential services' workers to vote.

The Head of the AU election mis- sion, Fatuma Ndangiza, said the commission noted concerns raised by stakeholders on the level of consulta- tions and the constitutional amendment process. Ndangiza said the AUOEM has observed that the Electoral Act provides for mandatory disclosure of party expenditure, without placing a ceiling on party and candidate cam- paign expenditure.

“Neither does it regulate funding sources for party finances. The AUEOM notes the possible effect this gap in the Electoral Act could have on the fairness of political parties' access to resources and the undue influence of private money in politics,” she said.

She said the unregulated flow of money during elections could dis- advantage small parties with limited access to particular sources of funding as well as the possible submersion of the will of voters.

Ndangiza also noted that the ECN places a blanket ban on people with mental or intellectual disability from participating in elections. She praised the national broadcaster for delivering equal broadcast time to all political parties.

“The AUEOM noted that this al- location of broadcast airtime was done voluntarily, rather than by legal requirement,” she said.

“The use of electronic voting was largely successful in all observed polling stations, with a few instances of machines malfunctioning. Although most voters were using EVMs for the first time and they often required instructions from polling staff, they were generally comfortable.”

AUEOM said it noted that in 70% of the stations visited, it took more than three minutes to complete the voting process, the slowness being attributed to the voter identification system.

“In some cases, voters had their five fingers scanned,” she said.

She further said the observers reported poor queue management at a few polling stations, which persisted until 21h00.

“The AUEOM noted 15% of the stations visited had challenges with the equipment. They required technical support, which was not immediately available.

“While the AUEOM notes that a one-day voting process is in line with international practice, in the case of Namibia, the newly adopted voting procedures were lengthy and made it difficult to complete the process within the stipulated 14- hour voting period,” said Ndangiza.

The AU observer body said it had deployed 15 teams of two observers each across the country's regions, while the SADC body deployed 24 teams to all fourteen regions in the country during the elections.

The Namibian 

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