Namibian elections free and fair – SADC observers

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WINDHOEK – The elections on Friday were a credible reflection of the will of the majority of the people of Namibia, the SADC Parliamentary Forum Election Observation Mission said on Sunday.

The mission deployed eight teams, with two teams in the Khomas Region, one team in Oshana and Omusati in addition to a team in each of the following regions: Erongo, Hardap, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Zambezi. The teams were in the field from November 21 to 29.

“The 2014 Namibia Presidential and National Assembly elections [were seen] as having been free, credible, transparent, peaceful and democratic,” said head of mission Advocate Jacob Francis Mudenda who is also the Speaker of the Zimbabwe National Assembly.

Mudenda commended the contesting political parties, the candidates, the electorate and all stakeholders in the country for the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves during the electoral process and urged all to maintain this spirit in the post-election period.

“Namibia must be congratulated, notwithstanding some glitches, for having pioneered the use of EVMs during the 2014 elections,” he said, adding that other African countries could emulate Namibia’s example.

The SADC observer mission however recommended that express provisions be made in law regarding the period during which the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is obliged to officially publish election results to guard against the possibility of conflict and public anxiety.

The mission further suggested there is a need to come up with a code of conduct to govern media coverage of elections.

It also proposed the need for adequate time to fully operationalise and publicise – including through voter education – any new legal provisions among stakeholders in particular the electorate, before an election in order to enhance trust and credibility of the electoral process.

Namibia is the first African country to introduce the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs).

On Friday many voters could not cast their votes due to the technicality of the EVMs and faulty hand-held scanners to verify voter cards and fingerprints.

Scores of voters waited for more than ten hours to vote and long queues remained until 4am on Saturday.

By Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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