Election battle heats up

…as EVMs go on trial

By Maria Kandjungu

DESPITE early results from special voting exercises in the country and abroad that saw President Hage Geingob and independent candidate Dr Panduleni Itula gunning for the most votes, opposition parties PDM, LPM and SWANU have said they do not feel threatened by the results and would not redirect their campaign strategies in response to it.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe stated that although their party had been struggling to get the full results from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), they seem to have done well so far, and were not planning on changing anything.

“From what we have gathered we have gotten an average of 35 percent National Council votes so far. It (special vote results) does not give a clear direction, but even then, we did well, especially in Walvis Bay,” Ngaringombe said.

The SG added that regardless of hiccups with the (ECN), he believed the party had done its best and would this week close off its two star rallies in Windhoek and Opuwo in last-ditch attempts to get more people to vote for the PDM when the country goes to the polls next week.

“We are hoping (that) the process will not be skewed but we are excited and ready for Thursday.”

The South West African National Union (SWANU) will also not change tactics based on the incoming results from early voting, as according to the party president, Tangeni Iiyambo, those results are not authentic nor are they a true representation of the support the party has received so far.

He accused the ECN and its officials handling the elections of irregularities and tampering with the results. He told Confidente that SWANU had more votes than what the final results showed.

“People voted in numbers but the results show otherwise. We have members abroad and they went to vote, especially in New York (United States of America), where we have over 30 members and they have confirmed that they voted, yet the results showed that we only got one vote or something,” Iiyambo fumed.

Iiyambo is not the only one to complain about the results from special voting, especially from the New York polling station at the Namibian Embassy. An unverified letter from 54 voters in New York to Namibia’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Neville Gertze, expressed strong discontent with the voting process and results announced.

“We are not confident that the results posted by the Permanent Mission are true and accurate reflection of the expressed will of the 54 Namibian who cast their votes on that day… The Namibians who sat there waiting for results felt betrayed and cheated,” the letter reads in part.

Henny Seibeb, deputy leader of the Landless People’s Movement, said they were ready for the election and were excited about participating in their first ever election. Seibeb said LPM is asking voters to give them a seat at the parliament table to bringing radical ideas and laws that can make for a better Namibia.

“If Namibia wants radical change in parliament, then they should give us the chance to lead in parliament. If we don’t do well in five years then you all are welcome to punish us and give us the boot.” Meanwhile, the use of EVMs is being contested in court on an urgent basis by Dr Panduleni Itula and the Workers Revolutionary Party, as well as the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters. The court is set to give a ruling on the matter on Monday, a mere two days before the scheduled election on 27 November.

SWANU, the LPM and PDM expressed strong reservations over the use of the electronic voting machines without any verified paper trail, but said they would nevertheless not boycott the elections next Wednesday, regardless of the court ruling on Monday.

“The faster they (the EVMs) are gone, the better for everyone. We are however hoping the courts can at least insist on a paper trail for those machines. Otherwise this is going to be a bogus and unfair election,” SWANU said.

The opposition parties, according to PDM, are also looking to pool election agents to ensure they have representatives monitoring every polling station.

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