WINDHOEK - Namibians cast their votes this week in a peaceful and calm atmosphere, well monitored by election observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and Commonwealth, among others.
While results started trickling out in the early hours of Thursday with polling stations posting the tallies outside for voters and observers to see, the voting process was violent-free although the Electoral Commision of Namibia (ECN) experienced a few hiccups with malfunctional electronic voting machines.
As predicted by most opinion polls, there was a close contest between incumbent Namibian and Swapo party President Hage Geingob and independent candidate Panduleni Itula.
Addressing a press conference on voting day on Wednesday, ECN chief elections officer, Theo Mujoro, acknowledged the technical glitches that occurred on voting day and promised to engage with stakeholders in the future for the perfection of the technology.
“In terms of whether we need the EVM technology going forward, the answer is yes and we will continue to engage with our stakeholders in the future to find a perfect tune of the machines,” he told local and international media.
Geingob and Itula chose a historical school, named after liberation stalwart Mandume Ndemufayo in the high-density suburb of Katutura in Namibia’s capital, to cast their vote.
President Geingob was accompanied by his wife, Monica Geingos. He expressed the desire to enhance democracy, albeit with confidence all over in the watershed poll.
“I am happy to cast my vote today together with many other Namibians as a part of our democratic process,” Geingob said.
Dr Itula also said he was happy to be casting his vote at the same school he did his primary education during the apartheid era.
‘This is the same place I attended my school and right here is my former class room. I am happy someone also chose to sign their resignation letter here and I respect their courage,” Itula said.
Official opposition leader McHenry Venaani of the Popular Democratic Party also chose the same high-density to cast his ballot.
“These are the same people that we want to emancipate. I am here to cast my vote in this place because these are the people we need to restore their dignity. Katutura is my place and it’s where I spend most of my time,” Venaani said.
Venaani also took the opportunity to express displeasure with the reports of malfunctional EVMs in some parts of the country to observers from the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) who were manning the same polling station where he cast his vote.
Landless People’s Movement presidential candidate, Bernadus Swartbooi, also cast his vote in Windhoek with confidence.
The other candidates from SWANU, Tangeni Iyambo, and NUDO represented by the only female candidate, Esther Muinjangue, also cast their votes.
ECN chairperson Advocate Notemba Tjipuea said that they would release the results as soon as they were done with tallying and the process had been made as open as possible with all political parties accessing both the polling station results as well as those announced at the central results nerve centre.