ECN right on electoral law
THE recent interpretation of articles 46 (1) (a) and 47 of the constitution of Namibia and section 77(4) of the electoral Act 5 of 2014 by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) that has shaken ruling and minority parties remains a key intervention that propels our law abiding country forward.
Cementing a legal opinion that was this week given by South African Adv. Geoff Budlender and Dr. Sackey Akweenda, a member of the society of Advocates of Namibia, the Commission has upheld its earlier decision that everybody mentioned in Article 47 of Namibian Constitution and in particular persons who are remunerated members of the public service of Namibia and those who are members of the National Council, Regional Council or Local Authorities are not eligible for Candidature of the National Assembly.
Cognisant of the timing that indeed is controversial with only just over a month remaining to the polls, it is important that the Commission conducts elections in a manner that follows the law accurately and avoid setting a wrong precedent to future elections which might compromise the integrity of our electoral system.
This publication is of the view that regardless of the implications to political bigwigs that may be forced to either resign from public service or be ejected from the party list, the law is the only sword that can unify opposing voices and present a platform that breeds equality among all in our young democracy.
This electoral integrity which refers to international standards and global norms governing the appropriate conduct of elections must always be allowed to prevail during the pre and post election period, as well as during the campaign and on voting day. In this view, there is no arguing that this decision that has been taken by the Commission bodes well with ethical conduct of elections, something that we as the electorate must take pride in.
Namibia is among relatively few African countries that hold regular democratic elections with high levels of integrity, enabling citizens to choose their government. Since democracy in 1990, our elections have been consistently adjudged legitimate, free and fair.
But there may be trouble on the horizon. The masses are fast losing interest in the processes around election with voter apathy at its highest in close to three decades. Perhaps the Commission must retain the integrity and relevance of elections first by ensuring that the electoral laws are interpreted correctly without compromise. This is the required standard and shouldn’t be subjected to views of political parties who for obvious reasons would want to bend the rules.
It is disheartening that political stalwarts that have been in the political arena for long have been the one vocal in objecting this intervention yet they hypocritically claim to be vanguards of the Namibian Constitution.
ECN must ignore the opposing voices and focus on the law in their envisaged delivery of a free and fair elections while on the other hand, political parties must take the shot and comply with the law as those that seek to be voted into offices that primarily are about defending that same constitution.
For the ECN, a future sustainable strategy is to engage relevant political parties to provide continuous electoral law education long before major elections. This will help ensure party lists are done correctly without any of these unwarranted controversies.