OUKONGO – The Electoral Commission of Namibia’s (ECN) failure to secure enough polling booths before elections came back to haunt them last Friday when they had to improvise with cardboard boxes.
At the polling station at Acacia High School in Khomasdal in Windhoek there appeared to be a shortage of booths, while a photo posted on Facebook showed that ECN officials improvised with cardboard boxes around a tree in rural Namibia.
At polling stations in Kunene, polling agents made use of classroom desks, lockers and even posters to put us makeshift polling booths at some polling stations in the region.
The contrived polling booths provided some semblance of secrecy to voters that flocked to the polling stations manned by ECN agents. ECN sources said the shortage of polling booths was due to bad planning by officials tasked with the procurement of electoral materials.
Some polling stations did not even have sufficient ink pads, and polling officials could be seen sharing ink pads at some polling stations in Kunene.
At other polling stations ECN officials turned desks into voting booths that they wrapped with ECN promotion posters.
ECN’s regional coordinator for Kunene North, Ismael Ouseb, confirmed that for some of the 141 teams that covered the northern part of Kunene there were no polling booths, a situation which compelled them to improvise.
“We made certain arrangements where we had shortfalls, but it did not affect the process. The secrecy was maintained, that is the important part. Only a few teams went out without polling booths,” said Ouseb.
Some of the voters could be heard accusing the ECN of being disorganised and failing to prepare adequately for the polls last Friday that were characterised by delays that resulted in countless voters being unable to cast their electronic vote.
“ECN had five years to prepare for the elections yet they could not even get booths where we could vote. We had to vote in lockers,” said one of the voters at Oukongo.
By Tuesday last week – three days before polling day – the ECN still did not have enough polling vehicles. At the time they still needed about 600 vehicles.
The commission eventually resorted to making use of private vehicles.
In October The Namibian reported that the ECN was still to acquire election materials such as polling booths and chairs.
The commission even placed an advert in newspapers at the time asking for companies to design an election theme, branding of election venues, branding of a central results centre at the ECN headquarters in Windhoek, and the supply of promotional items.
At the time ECN also requested for materials such as 100 tents, 150 generators, 300 water containers, date stamps, chairs and tables.
By Mathias Haufiku