Mine workers want polling stations on site

11 Nov 2015 13:10pm
SWAKOPMUND, 11 NOV (NAMPA) – Chances are slim that there will be mobile polling stations at mines across the country during the 2015 Regional Council and Local Authority Elections on 27 November.
Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) coordinator for the Erongo Region, Kashidinge Lukas Nghipuilepo said this in response to a question by Swapo Party Regional Coordinator, Philipus Heita on whether there will be voting stations at Swakop Uranium’s Husab mine outside Arandis.
Heita raised the concern during a stakeholders’ information-sharing meeting held by the ECN at Swakopmund on Tuesday.
Nghipuilepo further said the provision of polling stations at mines was applied during the Presidential and National Assembly elections last year.
It is a different scenario, however, for the Regional Council and Local Authority Elections.
“The ECN has a problem placing a polling station at a venue where not everyone is allowed to vote, because not everyone who works at the mine is from the constituency where the mine is located. We therefore urge all companies to allow their employees to go vote,” he said.
The official added that all polling stations must be accessible to everyone, so that the ECN avoids accusations that the stations are placed in favour of political party A or B.
The ECN’s Spokesperson, Vikitoria Hango confirmed to Nampa on Wednesday that although the polling stations have been finalised, the elections body could still look into requests for polling stations at certain areas.
Approached for comment, Swakop Uranium’s Vice-President for Human Resources and Business Support, Percy McCallum said the company will make sure that all its employees are allowed to vote.
“We support that our employees participate in the elections. They also work in shifts; for instance in the morning, afternoon and evening, so that allows them enough time to vote and also work,” he responded. Fixed polling stations will open at 07h00 and close at 21h00.
He said the company will approach the ECN to make further arrangements for all workers to vote without hampering work at the mining site.
However, during the general elections last year, some mineworkers who wanted to vote before or after their shifts, could not do so because of long queues at the polling stations.
Wilfried Groenewald from the Swakopmund Residents Association (SRA) suggested that there should be more voting stations in Swakopmund to avoid voters being turned away when voting ends that day.
“In the previous elections, a lot of people in Swakopmund could not vote because the venues were full and people stayed in long queues until the venues closed at 21h00. This is very discouraging,” said Groenewald.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for the Daures Constituency, Joram Kennedy !Haoseb also requested that voting venues in that constituency be re-arranged because some voters are on farms where there are only a few people.
He suggested that such polling stations be moved to places where more registered voters are found such as Omatjete, Uis and Okombahe.
On a question as to when seafarers can vote, Nghipuilepo said there will only be one special voting day on 23 November to cater for all people who might not find time to vote on 27 November.
These include elections personnel and police officers.
The election coordinator advised that all seagoing workers and everyone who know that they might be working on 27 November must apply individually to the ECN for permission to vote on 23 November.