Windhoek protestors call for EVM removal

Over one hundred protestors on Saturday took to the streets of Windhoek to vent their frustrations and anger around the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) at the upcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The protestors started their demonstration in Havana informal settlement on the outskirts of Windhoek and headed to the head office of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) where they were expected to handover their petition to the commission's Chief Electoral and Referenda Officer Theo Mujoro.

Mujoro did not show up on the day to receive the petition, something which did not sit well with officials from the Namibian Police Force (NamPol).

I don't take instructions from the Namibian Police. I read about the intention of people to march on social media. Nobody has written to me as the chief electoral officer or the commission about the planned march. So, I had no obligation to receive anything from anybody, Mujoro told Nampa on Saturday.

However, Mujoro's absence did not deter the spirit of the about 150 demonstrators who were clear in their demands.

Their petition, which was seen by Nampa had over 500 signatures of people who are against the use of EVMs.

A finals list of signatures will be complied and submitted to the ECN on next week as other protestors in Rundu, Walvis Bay and Oshakati are also said to be adding their signatures to the list.

The demonstrators, as they were approaching the ECN head office chanted the word down EVMs down. No ballot papers, no election.

The bone of contention around the Indian-made machines is the speculation that they can be manipulated to favor a certain candidate or political party.

The dissent for EVMs is further fueled by reports that a number of EVM fell off a trailer while being transported to Outapi for the Swapo Party Elders Council (SPEC) congress in 2017, a theory the protestors believe is tantamount to taking the electorate for fools.

The scandal was further fueled by Namibian Police Force Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga who dismissed claims by both the ECN and Justice Minister Sakeus Shanghala who was the returning officer the SPEC congress that the police was investigating the missing EVMs.

Are EVMs the size of elephants or what? If these politicians can carry bags of cement in the boots of their government-sponsored Mercedes Benzes, then why would they put something as sensitive as an EVM on a trailer? Sacky Nghaamwa, one of the protestors questioned.

Another protestor, Festus Lweenya said Namibians cannot be coerced to use a system that they have little if any faith in.

We don't want EVMs. Why force us to use something that we do not want or trust? he said.

Although it was expected to bring together Namibians from various political divides together, the event was dominated by supporters of the independent presidential candidate, Panduleni Itula and the Workers Revolutionary Party.

Source: Namibia Press Agency