The chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), Notemba Tjipueja said the intention of allowing the ruling Swapo party to transport loaned electronic voting machines (EVMs) in 2017, was a cost-cutting measure.
The EVMs which are now a bone of contention, were given to Swapo for the election of its elders council’s wing in 2017 and allegedly fell from a trailer while being transported back to the ECN after those elections.
The revelation of what is now know as the ‘missing EVMs’, has had opposition parties up in arms with some claiming that they have lost trust in this new voting technology and the electoral commission, calling for the option of a verified paper trail to be added to the machines for next month’s general polls.
“The decision to ask the Swapo Party to transport the equipment [back] was presumably taken as a cost-saving measure, given the size of the consignment,” explained Tjipueja in a statement on Wednesday.
Tjipueja indicated that the ECN is going to keep its integrity and further assured Namibians that the November 27 Elections are going to be free and fair, like previous ones.
She urged people to trust the commission and not listen to speculations, which according to her, are being spread by the media and individuals on social media platforms to tarnish the ECN’s credibility.
“Most articles written on this matter contain factual inaccuracies, which may potentially impact on our preparations of conducting a credible election process. Inaccurate media reports have the potential of causing unnecessary electoral uncertainties, doubts and instill mistrust among voters in the electoral process and consequently the election outcome,” she noted.
“As a responsible election management body, the ECN has a sacred responsibility to uphold, promote and protect the integrity of the electoral process.
“It is, therefore, our duty to clarify the situation so as to not create negative perceptions around the overall integrity of the electoral process by providing to the general public and the Namibian nation at large, all the facts concerning the missing EVMs.”
According to Tjipueja, Namibian voters and stakeholders should be assured that the lost EVM units will not be used in the upcoming National Assembly and Presidential Elections or in any other electoral process.
The chairperson further said that EVMs cannot be accessed via any other means and it does not transmit any signal or connect to any type of network. Furthermore, Tjipueja, indicated that the commission has put in place safety measures to ensure that all machines are taken care of.
“The Commission has put in place additional standard operating procedures and safety standards around the management, storage and transportation of EVMs, which are strictly enforced, to ensure that an incident like this will never happen again”.