Election results must be accepted by all

HAVING endured a peaceful but tightly contested election campaign and voting period, it is important that both participants and the electorate accept the outcomes that will be announced by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) even if the results are not in their favour.

We say this, cognisant of the fact that elections constitute an important element in liberal democracy. They are a viable means of ensuring the orderly process of leadership succession and change and an instrument of political authority and legitimation. Due to this, the acceptance of results creates a conducive environment for a peaceful and progressive Namibia and this should be everyone’s responsibility.

As we have seen in other countries across our continent, the failure of elections or their absence largely defines the predominance of political dictatorships and personalized rule in Africa. The current wave of democratic enthusiasm has evoked a process of competitive and multiparty elections and this has brought with it, emotionally vested voters who may turn to violence if they do not get the results that they expected.

Our confidence in the outcome of the elections must first emanate from the manner in which ECN has credibly handled these elections and the extent to which they have invested in transparency and professionalism.

Amongst a number of credibility interventions by ECN, it is imperative to note that many concerns have already been diffused. Firstly and in terms of EVM regulations, all the EVMs must be subjected to a First Level Check (FLC) before the voting machines are used to conduct an election. In this regard, 6,080 EVMs underwent FLC in order to ensure that they are in good working order and the Namibian Police (NAMPOL) and political parties/candidates were invited to monitor this process as a matter of transparency.

Apart from this, the ECN also managed to go through a process of verification of ballot papers for the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which was also done by political parties and finalised on 1 November 2019.

As another key credibility checkpoint, election materials were managed in line with the provisions of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). This means that all sensitive materials adequately kept at a logistics Store at ECN Head Quarters in Windhoek, which is managed centrally for distribution and dispatching to all regional depots. In dispatching these, all the election material and equipment, including the EVMs and Tabulators were escorted by the Namibian Police (NAMPOL) and kept in safe custody of designated police stations before and after the polling process.

In terms of the Electoral Act No.5 of 2014 the ECN will also ensure the election results for the Presidential and National Assembly elections are announced at the Polling stations by the Presiding Officers and at the Collation/Constituency centres by the Returning Officers. The election results are also verified by the Chief Electoral Officer and Referenda Officer and submitted to the Chairperson of the Commission for final announcement.

In order to promote transparency, a presentation on the working of the Results Transmission and Results Management System (RMS) was made to Political Parties Liaison Committee (PLC) on 25th November 2019 and the ECN also made arrangements for all political parties to be present at all material stages of the electoral process, including the Central Electoral Results Centre (CERC).

All in all, we believe in the systems set out by the ECN and perhaps the biggest message today is that once we tolerate one another, even after the elections, whatever the outcome, we’ll still remain brothers and sisters. There’s no need to alienate one another because of the outcome.

One Namibia, one nation!