ECN Ready for Credible Elections

The Director of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Professor Paul Isaak has assured the nation that the electoral body is more than ready to conduct the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Isaak dispelled any doubts about the preparedness of the ECN and whether the electronic voting machines (EVM) are still going to be used for the upcoming elections, saying they have developed strategies to ensure everything is in place. “We are starting to put everything in place. We will gazette a credible voters register by 16 June,” he said, adding they would invite all political parties, the public and also work with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to remove the names of those who are deceased from the voters register.

He was reacting to claims by some opposition parties that Namibia might not be ready to conduct a credible election, because the electoral law has not been reformed to date, which could result in litigation if things are not done properly. Mike Kavekotora, the Secretary General of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) last week charged that the ECN spent a lot of money on the EVMs, but everyone is still in the dark over whether or not they would be used in the upcoming elections. This week Professor Isaak reiterated that the EVMs are already gazetted in accordance with the electoral law of 2009. “There is nothing prohibiting us from using the electronic voting machines. From a legal point of view we have everything in place to make use of them,” he explained. According to him the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development approved the use of EVMs in March this year already. He further said the ECN is planning a strategic retreat and also intends to engage all political parties in its voter education campaigns. He also revealed that there is a high probability that local authority elections would soon be conducted in the Otjinene constituency in the Omaheke Region and the Bukalo constituency in the Zambezi Region using the EVMs.

On the issue of electoral law reform, Professor Isaak said that the ball is in the court of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) to see to it that the matter is taken up with the Ministry of Justice before it is presented to Parliament. “But the finalization of the law reform is at an aanced stage now,” said Isaak, adding that he hopes that after the current parliamentary recess, it would be gazetted speedily. He further said that only the chairperson of the LRDC, Sackey Shanghala, would be in a position to answer questions as to when the electoral amendment bill would be finalized. Isaak said they are also considering the issue of voting in one day like the South Africans voted, as opposed to two days as has been the case in the past.

“If South Africa could do it in one day with a bigger population, why can’t we with a small population?” he asked, adding that it would also be better for logistical reasons.

Source : New Era