High Court nullifies southern local authority election results …ECN ordered to meet parties rerun costs

Andrew Kathindi

The High Court today, declared that the results for Aroab, Koës, Stampriet local authorities and Mariental Rural constituency are null and void and set aside.

The High Court further dismissed the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) urgent application to oppose the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN)’s case to have the results of those local authorities and rural constituency nullified, after finding irregularities in the way in which the elections had been conducted.

Judge Shafimana Ueitele however ordered that ECN should carry the cost for political parties to participate in the rerun of the polls.

“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,” stated Judge Ueitele.

This comes after Deensia Swartbooi of LPM had earlier testified that it would cost the party N$50,000 to re-partake in the retaking of the polls.

Chief Electoral Officer of the ECN, Theo Mujoro testified that for the Aroab, Koës, Stampriet local authorities and Mariental rural constituency, it would cost the commission around N$700,000 to redo the process of the election, and that the amount could be lower if it was started only from the poll, however stated that in order for the commission to be impartial, it could not pay political parties to partake.

“We don’t provide financial support for political parties to run political campaigns. That is not within our mandate or our budget. What we do is cover the cost of training.”

However, Judge Ueitele questioned whether it was fair and just that a political party or individual, that had already incurred costs for running a political campaign and process to take part in elections should pay out of its pocket to re-take them again, when the fault for irregularities was with official returning officers.

“We don’t want a situation where a political party who already participated cannot because they don’t have the means,” he said.

Quizzed on whether the ECN would appeal the judgement with regards to cost to political parties, ECN Chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja told Windhoek Observer the commission would first have to study the reasons given by the Judge, which were not provided at the time of the judgement.

This comes as the High Court also granted ECN’s urgent application to rectify a wrongful allocation of council seats to political parties in Otavi, Okakarara and Katima Mulilo.

The Judge ordered that the allocation of seats be remedied on or before Friday 18 December.

In Otavi, where six seats were available, out of 1 673, a surplus seat had gone to Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), when it should have gone to Swapo.

Swapo now holds five seats in Otavi while LPM holds one.

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