Electoral law silent on criminal status of candidates

01 Oct 2015 12:40pm


National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) wants the Electoral Act, which governs elections in the country, to be amended to prevent political candidates with criminal records from standing for elections.

The electoral law is at the moment silent on this subject and this has caused concern amongst members of the public who feel that some leaders are not fit to run for public office due to their criminal background, Nudo says.

Speaking to Nampa on Tuesday, Nudo Secretary-General Meundju Jahanika said it is not good for a criminal to run for public office while the government has declared war against corruption.

At a media conference held in Windhoek earlier in the same day on the preparedness of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for the Regional Council and Local Authority elections, ECN's Operations Director Theo Mujoro admitted that the Electoral Act does not pronounce itself on the matter.

According to Mujoro, nowhere in the Act is mention made of someone with a criminal record not being able to stand as a candidate for an election.

He said that according to the Electoral Act as amended in 2003, it is not in the power of the ECN to screen candidates in this regard, as the only thing the Electoral Act says about candidates is that they must be registered voters.

"If a candidate wishes to stand for the Regional Council and Local Authority elections, the Act says such candidate must be a registered voter in that respective Local Authority. Our responsibility is only to make sure that every qualifying Namibian is registered as voter," Mujoro said.

He shifted the responsibility of screening the records of the candidates to the political parties. "It is the responsibility of political parties to ensure that their candidates do not make themselves guilty of any criminal activities," he said.

Mujoro added that the criminal status of candidates might be included in the Regional Councils' Act or the Local Authorities Act, but not in the Electoral Act. According to Jahanika, everyone who wishes to take part in elections as a candidate on the ticket of Nudo is required to provide police clearance to qualify. 

"That is what we do in Nudo to ensure that our candidates don't have any criminal record. If they do have such a record, they are removed from the list," he said.

Marina Kandumbu, a Swapo parliamentarian hailing from Rundu was convicted of corruption by the Rundu Magistrate's Court last year. She was however sworn in amidst objections from the public and some players in the political field.

The Regional Council and Local Authority Elections will take place on 27 November 2015.