Windhoek High Court dismisses opposition challenge

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

The Windhoek High Court on Wednesday dismissed an urgent application brought by three opposition parties asking it to postpone Friday’s parliamentary and presidential elections.

“The applicants were in possession of documents about the issues brought before the court by 20 October, but brought them here a month later, no reasons were given why they did not file the application earlier, no case was made for urgency,” Judge Kobus Miller said, reading from his ruling.

“With regard to the application to stop the electoral commission from using electronic voting machines (EVMs) and to disallow suspension clauses contained in the recently promulgated elections act in order to stop the use of EVMs, I say that in South Africa it is not unusual for the powers to determine the date on which enactments laws or sections of them will come into effect.

“In Namibia it is [also] often the case that the power to determine this is left with the administrative arm of the executive dealing with legislation,”

Applicant August Maletzky argued on Tuesday that the EVMs should not be used in Friday’s elections, as they did not produce a verifiable paper trail for every vote cast.

This was stipulated in the new elections act, but a suspension clause provided for the later introduction of EVMs with paper printouts.

“The respondents do not dispute that the EVMs to be used do not print a paper receipt after each vote. The facts about this brought by the applicants are speculative in their nature. The final determination of facts for a court is to go by evidence of respondents. I am satisfied that on facts before me the use of the current EVMs will not impair the constitutional rights of voters.

“The court application is dismissed with costs,” Miller ruled.

Maletzky called the ruling a “miscarriage of justice”.

“We expected that. There is no independent judiciary in this country,” he told Sapa.

“We will now turn to the Supreme Court and file an application there.”

Maletzky runs the African Labour and Human Rights Centre and prepared the application for the main opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP), and the recently formed Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) party.

Attorney General Albert Kawana, who is also minister of presidential affairs, was satisfied with the ruling.

“I am not surprised by the outcome,” he told reporters immediately after the judgment in the courtroom.

Elections are slated for this coming Friday, when 1.24 million eligible voters will elect a new government.

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