Some seafarers turned away from polling station in Walvis Bay

WALVIS BAY; Some seagoing personnel commenced voting in the Presidential and National Assembly elections here on Friday morning.

The two polling venues, being the Kuisebmund Community Hall and the Hosiana Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN) parish in Kuisebmund, opened exactly at 07h00, and will close at 21h00.

The counting of votes will commence shortly afterwards, while the results will be displayed outside the polling venues and be forwarded to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN)’s head office in Windhoek.

Namibians living abroad are also voting on Friday.

The rest of the Namibian citizens will vote on 28 November.

Speaking to Nampa at the ELCIN Church on Friday, the ECN’s returning officer for Walvis Bay Urban, Stephanus Namwandi said more than 25 fishing companies submitted the names of their employees eligible for voting.

Companies include Tunacor Fisheries, Camera Fishing, Benguella Sea Products, Cadilu Fishing, Namsov Fishing Enterprise, Marshall Reer Fishing and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

About 2 900 seagoing employees are expected to cast their votes at these two venues.

By 10h00 today, a long queue was visible at the community hall, compared to the queue at the ELCIN Church.

Alencia Awases is the ECN’s presiding officer at the community hall, and said some seafarers have been turned away from the polling station because their names were not on the lists provided by the different companies of workers eligible to vote on Friday.

“If their names are not on the list, we require proof before they can be allowed to vote because this election is strictly for seagoing employees,” she explained.

Awases said they have to obtain letters from the companies to prove they work there, and are eligible to vote.

Some of the voters in the queue at the community hall complained that the queue was moving very slowly, and they were concerned that they might not be able to vote before the venue closes.

“We only have a day off to vote, and we are required to set sail tomorrow,” one male voter noted.

Nampa also observed that some voters struggled to operate the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the voting booths.

Such voters were, however, promptly assisted by the presiding officer.

An election official said it seems many people still need education on the use of the voting machines.

Meanwhile, the Director of Elections, Prof Paul Isaak was expected to hold a media briefing at the Kuisebmund Community Hall at 11h00 on Friday.