- Election observers claim to have proof of vote rigging in Namibia's Caprivi region, an opposition stronghold. A candidate of the ruling SWAPO party is said to have paid "large quantities of money to party agents, police officers and Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) officials alike, in apparent attempt to rig the elections."
This was reported to afrol News yesterday by Phil ya Nangoloh, the Executive Director of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR). The NSHR had elections observers in the Caprivi Region who claim to have proof of rigging in this opposition stronghold.
The Caprivi Strip is a troubled remote region of Namibia, formed as a wedge between Botswana in the south and Angola and Zambia in the north, reaching the Zambezi. Also being ethnically remote from Namibia's population majority, the Strip has experienced secession attempts. As one of the few Namibian provinces, the population opposes the popular SWAPO government.
According to NSHR elections observers in the Caprivi Region, the SWAPO candidate for the Sibbinda Constituency on 16 November thus tried to assure his election to the Namibian parliament by non-traditional means. The candidate is to have paid large sums to have the vote rigged, the NSHR says.
When a white reporter questioned as to whether the observed money transaction was to buy votes, the SWAPO candidate overheard this, the NSHR observer reports. The candidate was quoted as saying to the unidentified reporter: "You white people should go back to America where you came from."
When the reporter responded that he was coming from Windhoek, the Namibian capital, and not from America, the candidate allegedly threatened he would "fuck up" the reporter "when I come to Windhoek." This was reported by a Caprivi-based NSHR elections observer on condition of anonymity.
A second incident occurred also reported to have happened on 16 November at Kanono Secondary School, some 60 kilometres south of Caprivi's provincial capital, Katima Mulilo. In this case, the same SWAPO candidate was observed giving money to officials from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), opposition DTA party agents and an unidentified member of the Special Field Force (SFF) member on duty.
Reported the NSHR observer: "When I returned to the voting station at around 20:15, I discovered that the voting station was turned into a dancing and drinking party. The music came from a radio brought into the station by [a named opposition] DTA party agent. A youthful SWAPO party agent and mobiliser started screaming to me saying inter alia 'It is government policy that people should vote'."
After the NSHR observer produced his accreditation credentials the presiding officer reportedly got embarrassed and quickly 'called' the drinking and dancing party 'to order', the NSHR reports. One opposition "observer" admitted he had brought the radio and another admitted he was drunk.
- On several occasions, since the voter education process started, NSHR has been on the record expressing concern over threatened election integrity in the current process, Mr Nangoloh recalls.
Sibbinda, the Caprivi constituency in question, is historically the most strongly opposition-supporting of the six constituencies in the region. In the 1999 parliamentary polls, the ruling SWAPO party only got 16,3 percent of the votes here, compared to two-thirds at a national level.
According to the independent daily 'Namibian', SWAPO only won a majority in the Sibbinda constituency in the 1998 Regional Council elections. "However, that election took place in the shadow of a record low five percent voter turnout, when 201 votes were all it took to secure the constituency for the ruling party's candidate," 'The Namibian' reports.
The 1998 poll came shortly after the Windhoek government disclosed plans to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia. The constituency's political leadership of the DTA opposition party was accused of being involved in these plans and decided to seek refuge in nearby Botswana.
Since the 1998 poll, however, the DTA has had a solid majority among Sibbinda voters. A victory for the SWAPO candidate therefore would cause both surprise and outrage among Caprivi voters. The official results of the poll are expected by tomorrow.
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