The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement on Monday called for the withdrawal of the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s decision not to hold a by-election at Keetmanshoop Urban constituency, arguing it is unlawful and not in compliance with the Regional Council Act.
ECN last month said it will not hold a by-election for the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency to fill the vacancy left by the Landless People Movement (LPM) councillor, Maxie Minnaar, who died last month.
In a statement, ECN’s chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro said considering the economic upheavals in the country, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, the commission is of the view that it would not be prudent to conduct a by-election just a few days before the regional council election.
Technically, Mujoro said, this implies that the ECN would conduct two elections around the same time to fill the same vacancy in the same constituency.
He said the scenario of conducting the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency by-election a few days before the regional vote presents a dilemma that the would-be councillor would serve only two-weeks and a half.
Similarly, the financial implication of holding such elections is estimated at N$1 million.
“This would amount to wasteful expenditure and result in hardship for the Namibian taxpayers to spend N$1 million on a by-election under such circumstances,” he said.
However, the movement, through their lawyers Kadhila Amoomo Practitioners, wrote to Mujoro and indicated the movement’s intention to challenge the issue in court if the ECN fails to hold such elections before the end of October.
“It is also our submission to your office that the decision of the ECN not to hold by-elections in the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency is equally unlawful for want of compliance with the regional council act,” said Kadhila Amoomo in a letter to Mujoro.
The lawyers quoted section 10 (3) of the Regional Councils Act 22 of 1992, which reads “(3) A casual vacancy in a regional council shall be filled within three months after it has occurred by the election on a date to be determined by the President by proclamation in the in the gazette, of a member as contemplated in section 7 (2) for the unexpired portion of the period of office of the member who has vacated his or her office unless the period of office of the member who has so vacated his or her office expires during the said period of three months”.
Amoomo said deducting from the literal, purpose and contextual theories of interpretation, it is beyond doubt that the ECN ought to attend to the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency by-elections to enable the voting of council members who shall serve the remainder of the unexpired portion of the period of office of the member who has unfortunately since passed.
“The ECN is not entitled to disenfranchise the community members of Keetmanshoop Urban on this score. Albeit unsolicited, we wish to advise that the interpretation employed by the ECN on the practical working which follows the implementation of section 10 of the regional councils is ill-advised,” Amoomo added.
Therefore, Amoomo demanded within three days continuous voters’ registration process by the ECN as contemplated by the electoral act to be immediately implemented.