Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

WINDHOEK — In a first for Africa, Namibians will cast their ballots electronically in this month’s presidential and legislative polls, the election commission said Friday.

Over 1-million voters, or just about half of the nation’s 2.3-million people, are due to vote on November 28.

"I think it’s a big achievement for Namibia and the African continent at large," Nontemba Tjipueja, chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of Namibia said.

She said the voting machines, imported from India, will help improve accuracy, speed up counting, eliminate human interference and cut down on spoiled ballots.

"Results will come through the same day just after the closing of the polls," she said, adding that final results will be announced within 24 hours.

In previous elections results took up to five days to be released.

"There will not be spoiled or rejected votes this time around. Every vote will count," she said.

During the last vote in 2009, the electoral commission counted 12,000 spoiled ballots — equivalent to one seat in the national assembly.

"It will be different this time around," she said.

The poll body is confident of a glitch-free vote having had dry runs of the machines in recent months at three local government special elections, including one in a district of Namibia’s capital Windhoek on Friday.

Despite previous fears of possible technical problems by some opposition groups, Ms Tjipueja said all the political parties had agreed to the use of the touch screen machines.

There are nine presidential hopefuls, but the real race will be between the ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) party candidate Hage Geingob, and the main opposition leader Hidipo Hamutenya of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP).

President Hifikepunye Pohamba is not eligible to seek re-election as he has served the limit of two-five year terms.

Mr Geingob was the country’s premier for 12 years from 1990 to 2002.

SWAPO, still liked by many for its role in winning the country’s independence in 1990, is expected to win the vote easily.

But the party has been tainted by a series of corruption scandals and persistently high inequality, prompting the emergence of populist party the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters.

Sapa/AFP