Polling Officers Face the Chop

FIVE presiding officers and polling officials in Kavango West and East regions might be fired today by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).

Director of operations at the ECN Theo Mujoro told The Namibian yesterday that the five, whose names cannot be revealed yet, will be informed today.

This follows emails and SMSes that were circulating, claiming that polling officials are not satisfied with the N$100 per day they are currently receiving, wishing that they would receive N$250.

The emails and SMSes further threatened that if the ECN does not respond to their demands by tomorrow, the polling officials will boycott the elections on Friday.

Mujoro said the Commission is aware of the emails and SMSes, but said: “ECN will not budge.”

The email, which was sent to The Namibian, said the officials threatened to boycott and demonstrate right before the election to prove their dissatisfaction.

“We will not sign any contract if our payment is less than N$5 000. We demand N$250 per day for training, instead of N$100, N$1 500 on polling day and N$900 on other days,” the email read, further claiming that some coordinators and supervisors are paid N$600 per day, while using government vehicles.

“We are paid peanuts and some of us travelled from far to work for the ECN, therefore, they must pay us fairly. We want free and fair elections but if our demands are not met before the 27th, then we will not work,” read the email.

Mujoro said the ECN had also received the email from an anonymous source, which demanded that polling officials should get a raise for training and the actual polling day.

“We have established that these people belong to opposition parties and some of them appear on their parties’ National Assembly lists. In the process of appropriate action, they will be brought to book. The commission is taking action and we have also reported this matter to the police,” he said, adding that they have a code of conduct, which the officials should follow.

Mujoro said most of those currently working for the ECN are already familiar with the rates, saying it is inappropriate for them to demand more as the rates were revised a few months ago.

“This is pure blackmail. We are not going to budge. They will be taken out off the process,” he said, adding that this will not affect the election because they have trained many people who can replace those who will get fired.

“Their intention is to frustrate the whole process but we have a critical mass of people in our database. We have the capacity to replace them,” he asserted.

The Namibian has also been informed that there are about 100 people in Khomas who plan to boycott the election. Although they told The Namibian that they have signed a petition, which was given to the ECN, Mujoro said they have not yet received it.

Source : The Namibian