ECN understaffed in crucial year

Home National ECN understaffed in crucial year

WINDHOEK – With only 54 permanent staff members, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says it is critically understaffed ahead of national elections later this year.

The permanent staff is complemented by 148 temporary employees situated at both the head office and in the regions.
This information is contained in the ECN’s latest 2017/18 annual report tabled in the National Assembly late last year. 
It could not be established if the electoral body’s staff complement has changed since the compilation of the report. 

Against this background, the ECN on Tuesday publicised vacant positions in accordance with its mandate under Electoral Act, Act No 5 of 2014, to enable it to conduct supplementary registration of voters by July 2019 and subsequently oversee Presidential and National Assembly elections slated for later this year.

The ECN is therefore inviting competent persons to apply for temporary positions to complement its understaffed permanent employees.

The temporary positions inviting applicants countrywide range from regional coordinators, assistant coordinators, supervisor of registration or returning officers, regional logistic officers, head office stores assistants, registration officials or polling officials, regional IT technical support staff, IT field support officials, youth ambassadors or voter education officers, human resource administrations and computer technicians.

The statement calling for applicants clearly indicates that government officials appointed will be employed on a secondment basis.

The ECN latest report shows that the fact that the commission is understaffed undermines the effective execution of its mandate.

“By way of redressing the situation, the commission reveals its currently in the process of finalising its organisational structure to ensure that it optimally executes its constitutional and statutory mandate. This process, needless to say, is dependent on securing additional funding from the national fiscus,” the report indicates.

The ECN is fully or 100 percent financed by the government of Namibia, under the national budget. During 2017/2018, the commission tabled a budget submission amounting to N$107 million, which was cut to N$66.9 million representing reduction of 37 percent (N$40 million) of the initial budget excluding the development budget.

The total approved budget of the financial year was therefore N$66.9 million. During the mid-term budget review, the allocated budget was further reduced to N$66.5 million after an amount of N$400 000 was suspended.
However, during the second quarter of the financial year of 2017/2018, the Ministry of Finance availed an amount of N$1.4 million for the payment of outstanding invoices from the financial year of 2016/17.

This brought the budget amount for 2017/18 financial year to N$67.9 million.
The ECN cautions in its report that modern technology, although very important and useful, should not be introduced untested a few months before elections. Doing so, it says breeds suspicion. 

Equally, it pointed out that the crucial role that active leadership, good citizenship, strong democratic institutions can play in fostering peaceful, free, credible and fair elections and democratic processes are undisputable.
It further says all stakeholders must uphold the rule of law at all given times. This it explained will ensure that electoral disputes are peacefully resolved through the court system and not through violent self-help means.