The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (EN) lost their appeal in the Supreme Court, which has ordered the party to recall six of its National Assembly MPs.
The party and ECN appealed against an earlier ruling of the Electoral Court to remove the six that was lodged by another group of six who were originally on the party’s 2019 National Assembly list of MPs, but were replaced.
PDM appealed against the Electoral Court decision in which the swearing-in of six PDM members as members of the National Assembly in March 2020 was declared unconstitutional and set aside.
The Electoral Court, consisting of three judges of the High Court, made that decision in July 2020, after PDM members Charmaine Tjirare and Hidipo Hamata challenged the party’s decision to change its list of National Assembly candidates following the 2019 election.
Judge Theo Frank stated today that the Electoral Court’s judgment that the PDM was not permitted to amend its electoral list after the election was correct.
Frank ordered that both appeals be dismissed with costs inclusive of the costs of one instructing and two instructed legal practitioners.
‘’The announcement of the declaration by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia published by way of Government Notice 86 of 2020 in Government Gazette No. 7149 of March 2020 is hereby reviewed and set aside insofar as concerns the following persons: Esmeralda Esme !Abes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Zeripi Tjeundo, Godfrey Kupuzo Mwilima, Timotheus Sydney Shihumbu, Pieter Mostert. The swearing-in as members of the National Assembly of the persons mentioned above is declared unlawful, invalid and set aside,’’ reads the Supreme Court judgement.
He further instructed the above-mentioned persons to immediately vacate their seats in the National Assembly and that Frans Bertolini, Charmaine Tjirare, Yvette Araes, Tjekupe
Maximilliant Katjimune, Raymond Reginald Diergaardt and Mike Rapuikua Venaani be sworn in
as members of the National Assembly with immediate effect.
‘’It is declared that the Electoral Commission of Namibia has no power in terms of the Electoral Act 5 of 2014 to alter or amend lists gazette in terms of section 78 of the Act, in and subsequent to polling day except in the circumstances contemplated in section 110(4) of the fact,” the judgement further outlines.
In a statement Secretary General of PDM, Manuel Ngaringombe said the party respects the judgment of the Supreme Court, however it denies having broken the law.
“As a party that abides by the rule of law and the supremacy of the Namibian Constitution, the PDM respects the judgment of the Supreme Court. However, it is paramount to highlight that the PDM never engaged in an exercise of wilfully or intentionally breaking the law. The PDM followed its list as endorsed by the Central Committee of September 2019, and followed established electoral precedence in the nomination of its members to fill seats in the National Assembly following the November 2019 National Assembly elections,” says Ngaringombe.
In addition, Nagringombe says PDM is consulting internal party structures on this issue to reach a consensus within the bounds of the law while maintaining party unity, while focusing on the party’s groundwork that has already been done in preparation for the pivotal 2024 Presidential and National Assembly elections.