Venaani rejects ECN’s list of PDM candidates

By Paulina Ndalikokule and Maria Kandjungu

POPULAR Democratic Movement (PDM) Leader McHenry Venaani announced that the party will not use the list that was amended by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for the National Assembly following last month’s elections.

Two months ago, the ECN had told politicians employed in the public service to step down if they aspire to run for a seat in the National Assembly ahead of the November elections. The party at first refused to remove the members affected by ECN’s condition from the list but later agreed to accept an amended list.

The decision was taken to ensure compliance with Article 47, Section 1(e) and (f) of the Constitution, which prohibits people employed in the public sector and members of the National Council, regional councils or members of a local authority from being elected for a seat in the National Assembly.

After ECN disqualified candidates on the PDM list who were employed in the public sector, the names of those below were automatically moved up the list.

The opposition leader at a press conference in Windhoek yesterday said his party and the ECN never reached any agreement on how they would reshuffle the members on the list after adjustments by ECN.

The PDM’s decision to revert to the original list affected the candidacy of six members, including his father Mike Venaani and previous University of Namibia SRC spokesperson Maximilliant Katjimune, who would now be the party’s youngest MP, among others.

Venaani’s father was 26th on the original list but moved up to position 16 on the new ECN list, whilst Maxmilliant Katjimune, who was number 22 on the original list moved up to number 14.

He said the party was forced to ask the members to withdraw from the list at the last minute so that PDM could comply with the Act, which they believe was misinterpreted by the ECN.

Venaani further said the list PDM submitted was vetted and elected by the highest decision body of the party, which is the central committee and thus could not just be changed.

“There is no way that PDM can adjust a list without the powers vested by the central committee. That [ECN] list cannot be legal in any way because it is not a PDM list.”

He rejected any suggestion that he was trying to push out young people. “I am a leader of principle and bound to report to higher office… I have no power to change the list… otherwise I would’ve kept the new list, which would bring my father to parliament,” he said.