ECN undermines Government's intelligence: Shanghala

05 Feb 2014 14:30pm
WINDHOEK, 05 FEB (NAMPA) - Allegations that the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) misled the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) into endorsing the requirements for voter registration, undermine Government’s intelligence.
This was said by LRDC chairperson Sacky Shanghala in a media statement issued on Monday.
In the strongly-worded release, Shanghala indicated that the ECN is to blame for the current situation as it did not craft and prescribe the appropriate documentation for the purposes of proving residency when prospective voters register.
The general registration of voters commenced on 15 January this year.
Many complaints have since been received that a large section of the population could be excluded from voting in the Local Authority elections due to the fact that they are not in possession of municipal bills to prove that they have resided in a certain area for 12 consecutive months.
Shanghala’s response followed local media reports quoting the chairperson of the ECN Board, Notemba Tjipueja, as accusing the LRDC chairperson of petitioning against a decision taken last year to scrap the use of municipal bills when registering for Local Authority elections.
The reports said the ECN accused the LRDC of lobbying ministers against its attempt to scrap the requirement.
“The allegation that the LRDC chairperson misled ministers is tantamount to an undermining of the intelligence of the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Attorney-General, Minister of Justice, and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration led by the Prime Minister... It should be emphasised that the abovementioned Members of Parliament emphatically rejected the proposition that sworn statements be jettisoned, having realised that their voting members would be disenfranchised.
The message given to the ECN was that for both purposes of proving citizenship and residency, perhaps the time has not come for doing away with sworn statements,” he said.
The ECN is currently registering voters for all four elections (presidential, National Assembly, Regional Councils and Local Authorities), even though the elections in respect of Regional Councils and Local Authorities are only taking place before 30 November 2015.
Shanghala said the ECN - of its own accord and in the exercise of its exclusive powers - has prescribed that applicants for registration submit either municipal water or electricity bills, or two deponents who can attest to an applicants’ residency in a particular local authority area for a year prior to elections.
He said it is widely accepted that this practice is a procedural impediment to a prospective voter’s right to vote in Local Authority elections, considering the reality that not all eligible voters have the required municipal bills.
Given this impediment, the issue of residency has been considered at length, with various stakeholders proposing various solutions.
The LRDC foresaw difficulty with the proposal by the ECN to do away with sworn statements (and curtailing their use) as it is not in possession of any viable alternative.
Depositions are established instruments of law, and there is no reason why sworn statements should be jettisoned, Shanghala indicated.
Residents who have already registered can serve as deponents for those who are not in possession of municipal bills.
Meanwhile, Shanghala also took a swipe at stakeholders, including youth leaders, who accused the LRDC of failing in its mandate.
“It is further regrettable that certain youth leaders, ripe with malice and malignant motives, are quick to populate the worldwide web space with their fiery flippancy, accusing the LDRC of failure in its national mandate and targeting its chairperson without pausing to reflect on the seriousness of the task at hand and, for that matter, without fulfilling their mandate to foment national pride and prepare the next generation to its awaiting calling of leadership. One ponders with great sorrow for a flock led astray,” he added.