Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro says it is not the electoral body’s obligation, responsibility, or duty to ensure that elected councillors are residents in their elected constituencies.
Mujoro was responding to New Era’s enquiry as to what the ECN would do after it was alleged that Independent Patriots for Change’s (IPC) Swakopmund councillor Ciske Howard-Smith was not a resident in her elected constituency.
“The urban and rural development minister is the responsible person to be approached with these questions and if and when it is decided that certain regional council members must vacate their office(s), and we receive confirmation from the chief regional officer, as per the Regional Councils Act, then we have to hold a by-election(s),” Mujoro said.
“It should be noted that the ECN’s mandate, regarding regional council elections, comes to an end at the announcement of the results by the ECN.”
Quoting Section 79 of the Electoral Act, Mujoro said a person may be nominated as a candidate for election as a member of a regional council if the person qualifies to be a member of a regional council as contemplated in Section 6 of the Regional Councils’ Act.
Also, section 6(1)(a)(iii) of that Act states that a person must be ordinarily resident within the constituency for which he or she is elected, or, if such person is not a resident at the time of his or her election, becomes so ordinarily resident within a period of three months as from the date of his or her election as such a member.
“Section 10 of the Regional Council’s Act states that a member of a regional council shall vacate his or her office in certain instances, one of which is when he/she becomes disqualified to be a member of the regional council,” he said.
However, Mujoro said qualification of members of regional councils is also dealt with in Article 72 of the Namibian Constitution, and that article refers to Article 47(1)(a) to (e), which then refers to persons convicted of an offence before and after independence, rehabilitated insolvents etc.
So, he said, clearly the fact that the IPC members did not move within three months does not mean they became “disqualified”.