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ECN reflects on elections

Summary

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says the 2020 regional council and local authority elections were a resounding success. This is according to the commission’s chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja, when she spoke exclusively to Nampa on Friday. She expressed satisfaction […]

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says the 2020 regional council and local authority elections were a resounding success.

This is according to the commission’s chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja, when she spoke exclusively to Nampa on Friday.

She expressed satisfaction with the voter turnout on 25 November, saying over 50 per cent of eligible voters showed up to cast their ballots.

Over the years, the regional council and local authority elections have generally attracted little, if any, fanfare.

“If you look at the history of these regional council and local authority elections, it’s a very good turnout,” Tjipueja said.

She was also pleased with the conduct and cooperation of ECN’s stakeholders during the elections, mainly political parties.

“The process as a whole has been very effective. Everybody collaborated and participated for the best of the nation in this whole process,” Tjipueja stated.

The elections had challenges of its own, with reverting to the ballot papers from electronic voting machines (EVMs) being one of them.

Between 2014 and 2019, Namibia used EVMs until the Supreme Court ruled their use without a voter-verifiable paper trail unconstitutional.

Consequently, ECN was ceased with having to re-educate voters on how to cast their ballots manually.

Transport was also a challenge for the commission in terms of its logistics.

ECN has been criticised for setting a bad precedent by not acting decisively against those who disregard the electoral law with impunity.

One incident that stands out is the remarks made by former Chief of the Namibian Defence Force, Martin Shalli, who called on his party members to slit the throats of political adversaries.

In terms of electoral laws, remarks bordering on intimidation are a punishable offense and can lead to a political party or candidate being withdrawn from the election.

“I think we have made our remarks in the newspapers concerning that specific incident and we have played our part. I don’t think it is really correct for those criticising to make those comments,” Tjipueja rebutted.

While admitting that no election is perfect, the commission is of the view that there is always room for improvement and indicated that it drew great lessons from the just-ended contests.

“Wherever there have been gaps, we have taken note of that and we will always make sure that we improve on the mishaps in the systems,” the chairperson noted.

On the commission’s future, she said ECN will hold a conference in the first quarter of 2021 to discuss the merits and demerits of the ballot paper system and those of EVMs “so that we can chart the way forward together.”

Source: Namibia Press Agency

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