Opposition parties bemoan lack of party agents

30 Nov 2014 09:30am
KATIMA MULILO, 30 NOV (NAMPA) - A lack of finances and transportation have been identified as the reasons for the poor turnout of opposition party agents at numerous polling stations for the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Zambezi.
A visit by Nampa to several polling stations to the Katima Mulilo Urban and Rural Constituencies on Friday revealed that big opposition parties such as the DTA of Namibia and the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) were not adequately represented by their party agents.
This news agency observed about two or three party agents present at the polling stations at Makolonga, Gunkwe Primary School, the Ngweze Community Hall, Mafuta, Greenwell Matongo Primary School, Liselo Combined School and Chotto despite a total of 16 parties registered and vying for seats in Parliament
The Zambezi Region has 77 fixed polling stations and 39 mobile polling teams to serve a population of 41 710 registered voters. The Katima Mulilo Urban and Rural constituencies account for 12 262 and 5979 voters respectively.
Contacted for comment, DTA national secretary for information and publicity in the Zambezi Region, Lascan Sikosi told Nampa a total of 70 party agents were needed to observe the election process but due to financial constraints, only 48 were accredited by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).
According to Sikosi, DTA is most under-represented in the rural constituency because the party depleted its coffers during the campaign period leading up to the elections and had no money to pay for the total number of agents it needed.
He however said in the absence of having enough agents at polling stations, the party has opted to use registered district members to monitor the process in their respective areas and report any dubious actions of officials.
“We know the dangers of not having party agents visible at polling stations on Election Day, even though we are confident that the overall process will not be flawed.
“However, the regional branch did not have a choice but to hire a number of people we can afford to pay, despite us needing more members to observe the process in the polling stations,” Sikosi said.
He indicated that their fund from which they were to pay the agents was drained during regional campaigns.
“It is unfortunate but we are monitoring every action the best way we can,” he said.
RDP mobiliser for the Zambezi Region, Bothman Sikute told Nampa a total of 110 party agents were needed but only 48 were appointed.
He blamed the lack of representation of the party on transport and non-availability of money to make copies of over 100 forms to accredit its party agents to sit in on the election process.
“There are two reasons I can give you as an explanation, with the first being that there was no transport to bring our members to town for training. There just were no vehicles to transport them all.
“The second is that our party head office could not assist us with money to make copies for our party agents in order for them to be authorised to be part of the electoral team conducting the process,” Sikute said.
He note that although the party is “in doubt” of how the process will be held in the absence of their party agents, he has not yet received a serious complaint from those representing RDP at different polling stations.
Election Coordinator for the Zambezi Region, Alfred Mbukusa confirmed the party agent shortfall, saying some political parties failed to submit the names of their agents in time for the one-week training. Mbukusa confirmed that there are 10 fixed and three mobile polling stations for the Katima Mulilo Urban Constituency, while the rural constituency has 13 fixed and 10 mobile polling stations.
“Political parties were requested to submit the names of their representatives so they could be trained, but most of them failed to do so. The shortfall of such a failure is visible in polling stations, but we cannot be blamed for that,” he said.