ECN to review nullification judgement

By Maria Kandjungu

ELECTORAL Commission of Namibia (ECN), is set to meet on Friday with its legal team and government attorneys to seek legal advice on the recent High Court judgement which nullifies the swearing in of six Members of Parliament from the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM).

PDM currently has 16 parliamentarians in the National Assembly.

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The High Court on Monday ruled that the decision made by ECN to allow PDM to alter its gazetted party list after the 2019 election was unconstitutional and unlawful, and therefore should be considered as null and void.

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Consequently, the court further ruled that the party’s six parliamentarians Esmeralda Esme !Aebes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Zeripi Tjeundo, Godfrey Kupuzo Mwilima, Timotheus Sydney Shihumbu and Pieter Mostert, who were added back on the list of MPs after the election, should be removed from Parliament to make way for other six members Frans Bertolini, Charmaine Tjirare, Yvette Areas, Tjekupe Maximilliant Katjimune, Raymond Reginald Diergaardt and Mike Rapuikua Venaani who were on the party list that was gazetted before the 2019 National Assembly elections. According to the judgement the latter are the legally elected MPs.

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However as it stands, the six members who were declared unlawful by the High Court will remain MPs and continue to be on the payroll of Parliament according to NA spokesperson David Nahogandja, adding that they can only affect changes as per judgment if ECN complies with the judgement and gazettes new names.

“As of now, the National Assembly has not received any new notification in relation to its membership.

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MPs are sworn-in after they have been gazetted by the ECN. We believe that this issue at the moment is entirely a PDM matter,” Nahogandja said.

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ECN Chief Electoral and Referenda Officer Theo Mujoro told Confidente this week that they are yet to decide whether to comply with the judgement or appeal it.

“We are yet to go through the judgement and interpret it to see what the way forward is.

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We will also need to go back to records to see who said what to who because there were events surrounding this issue between ECN and PDM on which list was to be followed. We are studying the judgement and we are set to sit with our legal team and government attorneys on Friday to discuss the matter and to consider our options and only then can I give a substantive response.”

PDM parliamentarian and chief whip Vipua Muharukua told Confidente that the party intends to appeal the judgement and as a result, no change should be done in terms of who remains in Parliament.

“For as long as we have made an application to appeal the judgement which we intend to do soon and for as long as the case is with the court, no change should be made. We are not shielding any member, we are guarding the party’s process and integrity. So, the party will do what needs to be done in this regard,” he said.