• April 19th, 2019
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ECN has N$80 million budget deficit


Albertina Nakale

WINDHOEK – The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says the N$220 million allocated to it for the 2019/20 financial year is not sufficient to successfully cover the November Presidential and National Assembly elections.
This was revealed by ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja after a brief closed-door meeting at State House with President Hage Geingob, whom she and other new commissioners paid a courtesy call to on Wednesday.
The ECN commissioners are appointed by the head of state on recommendation of the National Assembly.
The current commissioners comprise of chairperson Tjipueja, Gerson Tjihenuna, Evaristus Evaristus, Ulrich Freyer and Elsie Nghikembua.


ECN initially said that the electoral body will need close to N$301 million for this year’s general elections.
“We have received N$220 million. We had initially requested a higher amount of N$301 million. During the budget review, we will re-access the budget situation within the institutions and our preparation for the elections and whatever additional budget is required, and we will then make our budget request to the Ministry of Finance,” she said.
Although their meeting with Geingob was held behind closed doors, Tjipueja said they went to State House to share a number of issues; such as the introduction of new commissioners, the state of preparedness of ECN on the election calendar, to advise the President on the position of ECN on the use of  electronic voting machines (EVMs) and also shared some regional activities ECN has been undertaking as members of the Electoral Commission Forum in Sadc which Namibia is chairing. 
She refuted allegations that the commission is compromised because they, in the absence of other political parties, held a closed-door meeting with the head of state who not only appointed them, but is also a candidate for the November presidential elections. 
“You must understand, we have new commissioners and we came to pay a courtesy call on His Excellency. It’s a normal practice to pay a courtesy call to him as a new commission. That’s what took place, we came to introduce our new commissioners and we discussed specific issues which we discussed here,” she reacted before she walked away from further media questions.
When asked, President Geingob said there is nothing unlawful for him to nominate and appoint the ECN commissioners who are mandated to uphold honesty and transparency in the electoral process of which he will also be a presidential candidate in the general elections later this year.
“Let’s not go back to the Stone Age. It is happening all over the world. These commissioners have been there. What is the difference now? Didn’t President Pohamba and Nujoma appoint them? So why are you asking me that question now? It’s been happening, it’s been there. It’s the Constitution that says that,” Geingob remarked. 
According to the Electoral Act, the members of the ECN are appointed by the President from a shortlist compiled by a Selection Committee which consists of a judge nominated by the Chief Justice, a lawyer nominated by the Law Society and a nominee of the Ombudsman. 
Commissioners serve for five years, but can lose their positions for incapacity, or may be removed by the President for misconduct, with the approval of a resolution of the National Assembly.
Geingob also said he briefed ECN commissioners that peace and democracy is expensive, hence government will do what is right so that any election shouldn’t be in trouble because of lack of money. 
“There is a shortfall but they said they will handle it. We wait for the mid-term budget and I promised them if there is anything we can do to come up with money, we will do that. Democracy, peace is very expensive but war is worse, you also lose lives of people. So, to have a peaceful election you must pay money to maintain peace and our democracy. I don’t have money now, but we must look for money if there is a need to cover the shortfall of the money,” Geingob said.  
Tjipueja said the allocated money is sufficient to cover the by-election to be held in Ondangwa and for the programmes ECN is busy preparing.
At the moment, she said, they are preparing for the supplementary voter registration. 
She revealed they also discussed with Geingob the dates for the supplementary voter registration before the President proclaim those proposed dates.
She did however not reveal the proposed dates.
On independent candidates, she said the law is very clear on this matter.
“The electoral law is very clear. It allows independent candidates. When the nomination period takes place, we will receive any nomination that comes before the commission and see if they meet the requirements. After that we will proceed with nominations brought to us,” Tjipueja noted. 


Albertina Nakale
2019-04-05 08:27:48 14 days ago

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