By Ester Mbathera and Ndanki Kahiurika
MOST voters patiently waited for their turn at the polling stations for hours on Wednesday, but others resorted to desperate measures, such as faking pregnancies and disabilities, to jump the long queues.
Most polling stations did not have the luxury of
sitting or waiting areas. As a result, preferential treatment was given
to pensioners, people living with disabilities, pregnant women and
However, some mischievous but enterprising women took advantage of the preferential treatment given to pregnant women by stuffing materials under their clothing, and pretending to be heavily pregnant – instantly gaining passage to the head of the queue.
A video of a woman pretending to be heavily pregnant at an unidentified polling station was circulating on social media on Wednesday.
This unidentified woman was seen walking from the polling station after casting her vote, only to return home and remove a bundle of clothing and a basin she had tucked under her dress.
Another young woman admitted on social media that she pretended to be pregnant to avoid the long queues, and posted a picture of herself before and after her charade.
“For the love of our doctor and my country Namibia. I can’t wake up [sic] at 4, but I decided to pretend that I am pregnant so that I won’t go in the long line and cast my vote number 4,” read her post. At some polling stations, women were reportedly exchanging babies to catch the sympathy of polling officials.
Electoral Commission of Namibia presiding officer at Otavi, Setney Godza, yesterday said the presidential and National Assembly elections did not take place without drama and this was not limited to “pregnant women”.
He said although people were generally well-behaved, a man pretended to be disabled so that he could get to the front of the queue.
“He walked in here as if he was disabled, and we helped him go through the process. As soon as he was done, he ran out,” said Godza, remembering the incident during a visit to Otavi’s Community Hall polling station on election day.
Another incident was reported by a witness at the Theo Katjimune Primary School in Katutura, Windhoek, who told The Namibian that a man was pushed to the polling station in a wheelchair, but after voting, he left pushing it himself. The Namibian could not verify the incident with the presiding officer there.
Despite the stunts pulled by some mischievous voters, law-enforcement officers at polling stations, however, could not physically examine those who were faking pregnancies and disabilities.
“The duty of police officers at the polling stations was to maintain law and order. That is what the officers did. In a case such an incident being suspected, the officer on duty would have sent that person to the back of the queue,” said Erongo police commander Andreas Nelumbu.