ECN ponders next move

Andrew Kathindi

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is pondering its next move after finally receiving the reasons for last year’s December judgement regarding local elections in certain areas. On Thursday this week, the ECN began reviewing the Court’s justification for its decision regarding the elections in the Aroab, Koës, Stampriet local authorities and Mariental Rural constituency.

“The reasons were received yesterday (Thursday). We’re still looking at them, and then we still have to meet,” Chairperson of the ECN, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja told the Windhoek Observer.

Tjipueja had previously stated that the Commission would need to study Electoral Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele’s decision to nullify the results of the elections in the affected areas (results of which were never officially released). His order was also for the ECN to pay N$50,000 and N$25,000 respectively to political parties and independent candidates in the re-election of the regional council and local authority council.

“The Electoral Commission of Namibia must for the purpose of ensuring that all political parties, associations or individuals who participated in the taking of the poll on 25 November 2020, again partake in the retake of the poll, pay to the political party, association or individual an amount of N$50,000 in respect to the election for member of the Hardap regional council and an amount of N$25,000 in respect of election for a local authority council,” Judge Ueitele had said.

ECN had conceded to re-run the elections but had reservations about paying political parties and independent organizations funds for the political campaign needed to re-run the election, stating that it was not within its mandate. The political parties disadvantaged by the Court’s decision argued that the error in the administration of the elections was not their fault. The costs of running an election again should therefore be borne by the agency that caused problem. The courts determined that the ECN is culpable in the instances of elections errors it reviewed.

Tjipueja had said that they would need to study the reasons for the judgement, before making the next move for the ECN and deciding on whether to file an appeal against the decision.

Judge Ueitele’s decision had been delivered in December without detailed legal reasons to ECN which he promised to deliver at a later date.

This comes as the Commission has not yet set a date on when the re-elections will be held, having earlier stated that the re-taking of the polls would most likely be at the beginning of the year.

“No, we haven’t set a date. We’re still busy with consultation. Once we set a date, we’ll inform the public,” Tjipueja said.

ECN had stated in December last year that it would not be prudent to hold the elections then as most people from the areas where the elections would need to be retaken may have been traveling for the festive period.

“In addition, the Commission will not have sufficient time at this juncture, to effectively conduct voter and civic education in the affected areas in addition to the requisite logistical preparations for the elections. The nation will be informed immediately in the new year on a date when the new elections will be conducted,” Chief Electoral Commissioner of the ECN, Theo Mujoro had said.

The re-taking of the polls in the Aroab, Koës, Stampriet local authorities and Mariental Rural constituency was necessitated after the ECN found unspecified irregularities in the way in which the elections had been conducted.

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