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Poll challenge likely to fail, but EVMs still an issue

Poll challenge likely to fail, but EVMs still an issue

By Gary Van Staden
Oxford Economics.

Judgement on the opposition challenge to the outcome of presidential elections in Namibia last November will be delivered in early February, the Supreme Court announced at the weekend (18-19 January).

Also expected is ruling over the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) without verifiable paper trails. Regional observers believe the case regarding the conditions for the use of EVMs is fairly compelling but that the rerun of the presidential poll is highly unlikely.

Chief Justice Peter Shivute said the court will deliver judgement on 6 February on the application by five presidential candidates to have the presidential poll annulled. The five, independent candidate Panduleni Itula, Henk Mudge of the Republican Party, Eplaphras Mukwiilongo of the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters, Ignatius Shixwameni of the All People’s Party and Mike Kavekotora of the Rally for Democracy and Progress, claimed in court papers that the presidential election was rigged in favour of SWAPO’s Hage Geingob, the incumbent.

The applicants want the presidential pool rerun as soon as possible and claimed that some of the irregularities were as a result of the use of EVMs. The election in November 2019 saw Geingob receive 464 703 votes, Itula 242 657, Mudge 4 379, Kavekotora 3 515, Shixwameni 3 304 and Mukwiilongo 1 026.

Namibia becomes the fourth Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member state in the past year to challenge the outcome of elections, joining Malawi, Botswana and Mozambique in legal objections to election results where allegations of fraud and vote rigging were made by opposition parties and candidates.

In Malawi, Botswana and Namibia the challenges went to a hearing, in Botswana’s case, only on appeal aginst a lower court decision to reject the application. Mozambican courts rejected the challenges outright and in the other cases judgements and rulings are still expected.

A canvas of informed opinion regarding the Namibian applications suggests the Supreme Court may have some sympathy with concerns regarding the use of EVMs without any paper trail backup to verify the results.

That would seem to be a minimum safeguard, particularly in light of the fact that the Independent Electoral Commission acknowledged that some of the EVMs had ‘gone missing’ before the election. However, despite these reservations, the prospect of a rerun presidential election appears remote, especially given the extent of the SWAPO victory.

In Malawi, where incumbent Peter Mutharika won by fewer than 160 000 votes in a pool of five million, the allegations of rigging were plausible. Where the difference exceeding 200,000 in a pool of just over 700,000, evidence supporting allegations of rigging become far more demanding. We expect the outcome of the presidential elections to stand.


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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.