Election day declared a public holiday

Andrew Kathindi

President Hage Geingob on Wednesday declared the 25th of November, the day of the local authority and regional elections, a public holiday.

“Under the powers vested in the President by section 1(3) of the Public Holidays Act, 1990 (Act No. 26 of 1990, the President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Dr. Hage G. Geingob has declared 25 November 2020 as a public holiday for the purposes of the general election of members of regional councils and of members of local authority councils under the Electoral Act, 2014 (Act No 5 of 2014)” Press Secretary, Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari announced.

Bars and drinking spots are ordered closed on Wednesday for the elections.

This comes after the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) had earlier said that the day of the local authority and regional elections would not be a public holiday.

“The Election Day for Regional Councils and Local Authorities, is not a holiday in terms of the Electoral Act. H.E. the President can however, in terms of the Public Holidays Act, Act No. 26 of 1990, declare any day a public holiday. At the moment, he has not declared it as such.”

ECN further revealed that there will be no extension on the time that polls will be opened.

“No extension will be given. Polling stations will open at 07h00 on the 25th November 2020 and close at 21h00 on the 25th November 2020. We thus advise all eligible voters to familiarize themselves on where their polling stations are in their constituencies and be there before closing time,” ECN spokesperson Lina Ndengu told Windhoek Observer.

During the 2019 presidential elections, voters were observed in several polling stations, still in the queue at 2am on the morning after elections.

“Voters who have been in the queue before 21h00 (the cut-off time) will not be turned away. Voting in Namibia has always been done in one day, same as in other SADC countries. The Electoral Act 5 of 2014 clearly states that, anyone that arrives at the polling venue before 21h00 (closing time) will be allowed to vote. ECN officials will assist everyone in the queue until they cast their votes. No one will be sent away if they have been there before 21h00.”

ECN was also mum on when exactly after the elections results would be anticipated to be announced.

“Counting of results starts after 21h00 as soon as the last person in the queue cast their votes. Results will be announced as soon as the last ballot paper has been verified and counted,” said Ndengu.

When asked why regional and local authority elections have not always taken place at the same time, Chairperson of the ECN Notemba Tjipueja explained that this was due to the fact that the terms of office for representatives of the two elections were different.

“Following the passing of the Amendment Act 12 of 2010, the two elections were synchronized to take place simultaneously every five years and both elections were held together for the first time in the same year, on 26-27 November 2010.”

She added, “Thus, the 2020 local elections will be taking place against a proud historical record of Namibia having held its regional and local elections timeously and consecutively without fail.”

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