Chiamaka Ihekwoaba

Chiamaka Ihekwoaba

Namibian court throws out case against voting machines

Using voting machines instead of the traditional pen and ballot papers has been controversial in and outside Africa, with critics saying the machine aids corruption. This controversy was taken to court in Namibia, however, the court today dismissed the case aimed at preventing the use of electronic voting machines in its presidential election.

Come Wednesday, November 27, Namibians will elect a president on Wednesday and Geingob is expected to win with a reduced margin. Many are not happy with the prediction following the worsening economic crisis that has loomed in the country since independence from apartheid South Africa three decades ago. Meanwhile, opponents of President Hage Geingob have noted that the use of voting machine could be used to rig the result to favour the incumbent president.

Much to their displeasure, Magistrate Uaatjo Uanivi ruled that the tribunal has no jurisdiction to forbid the electoral commission from using them. According to Uanivi, “EVMs (electronic voting machines) in their current form do not address the question of transparency of the vote and I thought the court would put more effort into addressing the question.”

In 2014, the electronic voting machines were introduced as an efficient and reliable way of voting, replacing the paper ballots. The country spent over N$60 million purchasing the machines from India.

By July 2017, The machines reportedly went missing during the Swapo Party Elders Council’s 6th elective congress and human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe stated that the disappearance of the machines raise suspicions that the election could be rigged, questioning the integrity of the election outcome.

Namibia uses a majority system for presidential elections and the candidate with over 50 percent votes is declared the winner. So far, regional and international observers have largely declared Namibia’s past elections as fair and credible, although the use of voting machines may test whether they can stay that way.

Sadly, one of the worst droughts in history and the biggest corruption scandal in Namibia’s history have dented President Geingob’s popularity among its 1.3 million registered voters. The election will include more than 400,000 voters who were born in or after Namibia gained its independence from South Africa.