Andrew Kathindi

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has ruled out the possibility of the upcoming regional council and local authority elections taking place over more than one day.

This comes amid concerns that COVID-19 could impact on voting due to health and safety restrictions, with Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has urged the ECN to consider a new strategy which will allow more time for people to vote.

“There are people calling us from the regions saying I’m afraid to even go and stand in the queue to register because I do not know if I am going to attract COVID-19. There are a number of reasons people are using to state their concerns about crowds and the lack of social spacing,” Venaani said.

“The ECN must come to the board and say, because of the situation that the country and world are experiencing; we have designed a new strategy to accommodate. There must be reasonable allowance for voters to have more time.”

ECN boss Theo Mujoro told Windhoek Observer that no changes will be made to the voting dates and duration.

“In terms Section 64 (1) (b) of the Electoral Act, if a general election is to take place, the President must by proclamation in the Gazette make known the day upon which a poll must be taken in the election. Accordingly, the 2020 Regional Council and Local Authority elections are scheduled to take place on 25th November 2020,” ECN boss said.

This comes as he also revealed that the electoral commission is still in discussions with the Ministry of Education, Art and Culture over the use of schools for the upcoming elections, amidst raging debate over the delayed school calendar.

“Many schools around the country were identified either as registration or polling venues due to their strategic location within communities. The ECN is working very closely with the Ministry of Education in order to ensure full compliance with COVID-19 measures during the utilization of school facilities,” Mujoro said.

He said the ECN had budgeted N$8 million towards COVID-19 precautionary measures for upcoming elections.

“The ECN has had to readjust a number of its programmes to ensure that it incorporates the necessary measures to lessen the impact of exposure COVID-19 during all phases of the electoral process. An estimated amount of N$ 8,5 million will be used to ensure that all precautionary measures are put in place to ensure the safety of electoral staff and voters during the Supplementary Registration of Voters (SRV) and the polling exercise,” said Mujoro.