Andrew Kathindi

Swapo party’s Ndonga Linena Constituency councillor in the Kavango East region, Kampota Michael Shiwana, could be forced to relinquish his position.

This is after the High Court ordered the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to disclose to All Peoples Party (APP) 57 ballots that had been rejected. The APP earlier this year through their lawyer, Henry Shimutwikeni, argued that a number of ballots that had been rejected by ECN officials were actually valid. If so, they argued, this would make the APP candidate, Djami Balthazar Daniel, the winner in that Constituency.

Shiwana was declared the winner in the November 2020 elections with 1 073 votes, while Daniel came second with 1060. The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM)’s , Shipapo Kayeye, got 146 votes, while Independent Patriots for Change (IPC)’s Patrick Shiyemo received 70 votes. Earlier this week, Justice Nate Ndauendapo ordered that the ECN, Chairperson of the ECN, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja, and the Chief Electoral Officer of the ECN, Theo Mujoro, to “by no later than 15 court days (three weeks) from the date of order of the court, make available and allow the APP to make copies of the following documents: the 57 ballots that were rejected in the regional council election, for the Ndonga Linena Constituency, for the Regional Council Elections held on the 25th November 2020.”

APP spokesperson Vincent Kanyetu, told Windhoek Observer, that the party is hoping to access the ballots next week.

“We received the order yesterday. Procedurally, it’s now up to ECN to give us the date when we can access and determine. I hope within the next week it shall be done. For now, the ball is in the hands of the ECN.”

There were 57 spoiled ballots, a number thereof of which were spoiled for reasons that the marking of the chosen candidate wasn’t in the box allotted for marking, but rather on the face of the picture of the candidates. The marking on the faces is permissible in terms of the Act, which states that “the presiding officer may not reject, but must count any ballot paper on which there is any clear writing or mark by way of which a voter has indicated his or her choice.”

The APP contested that the majority of the 57 ballots were in their favour. Should this be confirmed, APP SG said that they are not looking for a re-run. “There is no re-run. There just has to be a change of leaders now. The one who has been serving the constituency for eight months has to go home, and the legitimate winner has to take over and they must pay him, backdated from November.”

“We have been confident from the beginning. We knew we won the election and it has been confirmed both by our party agents. By other political party agents, and some ECN officials themselves who worked in that specific constituency,” Kanyetu says.

According to him the officials who oversaw the election in that Constituency informed him that they were not taught in the training that if a voter casts on the face of a particular candidate, it is a valid vote.

“Which makes us wonder how you can give such a position of responsibility to somebody who is completely new from the street, who doesn’t have a basic understanding of what the law entails in terms of what is and is not a valid vote.”

“We won Ndonga Linena and you will see it during the recounting and verification. Out of the 57 rejected ballots, the clear votes for the APP candidate are 40. The only proper rejected ballots are 17. So, the 40 are ours, which would give us 1100 votes.”

Neither ECN Chairperson, Tjipueja, nor CEO, Mujoro, could be reached for comment by the time of publication.