WINDHOEK – The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says it will stick to the law in strictly applying Article 47 of the Namibian Constitution that compels aspiring parliamentarians and those employed in the public service to first resign from their positions before running for office. The ruling Swapo Party last week led a protest by political parties questioning the interpretation of the Electoral Act.
According to the ECN, party members employed in the public service, as well as the National Council, regional and local authorities, must first resign upon their nomination as candidates for political office. The ECN cited section 77 (4) of the Electoral Act, 5 of 2014 that states: “A person may only be nominated as a candidate on a list of candidates if the person - (a) qualifies to be elected as a member of the National Assembly by virtue of Article 46 (1) (a) of the Namibian Constitution.”
Article 46 (1) (a) deals with the composition of the National Assembly, and states inter alia, “subject to Article 47 hereof shall be eligible for candidature as a member of the National Assembly”.
The ECN hit back this week, saying it has widely consulted legal experts.
“The commission hereby informs all political parties that according to legal opinion the ECN has correctly interpreted the provision of Article 46 and 47 of the Namibian Constitution and section 77 (4) of the Electoral Act as to the eligibility of citizens of Namibia for candidature as a member of the National Assembly,” ECN chairperson Notemba Tjipueja said in her response to the aggrieved parties.
Political parties have until tomorrow to submit their final National Assembly candidates lists ahead of the general election next month.
Among those affected by the ongoing dispute are National Council chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams, Nudo City of Windhoek councillor Josef Kauandenge, Rundu Town Council member Verna Sinimbo, and Erongo Regional Council member Hafeni Ndemula.
Kauandenge yesterday told New Era that he was in the process of negotiating with the party and seeking solutions to the issue.
Justice minister Sacky Shanghala in a message widely circulated to “comrades and colleagues”, said there is a difference between the criteria for eligibility for candidates and the requirements for membership or holding a particular office.
Equally, he said, there is a distinction in being elected as a member or to an office, and assuming such office.
“In the premises, the question is: does the interpretation (that remunerated members of the public service, National Council, regional and local authority councils are not eligible to stand as candidates in the election of members of the National Assembly) create an absurdity? Only the courts can tell,” he said.
He said political parties can approach the electoral court to hear and determine the interpretation under section 168 (1)(d),(e) and (f) of the Electoral Act, 2015.
Another option, he said, is that the parties can bring a constitutional amendment to permit members of the National Council, regional councils and local authorities to become eligible to become candidates.
“The purported candidates resign their National Council, regional council or local authority offices to become eligible for candidature to the National Assembly,” he said.
2019-10-17 06:42:26 | 3 months ago