The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement was dealt a hard blow by the Electoral Tribunal in Windhoek yesterday when their application in which they sued the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for failing to implement continuous voter registration, as required by law, was dismissed with costs.
Before dismissing the application, magistrate Uaatjo Uanivi ruled that the “Electoral Tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear, redetermine, review and therefore set aside the decisions of the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, nor does it have powers to review the decisions of Electoral Commission of Namibia, including the decisions of the third respondent (the President).”
However, the court noted AR’s claims were correctly articulated but the forum they chose to hear and determine the matter was wrong.
On the issue of costs, the court determined that it should be on the scale of one instructing and one instructed counsel as AR acted “frivolously” in bringing their application or in continuing with the proceedings.
The pressure group filed the suit to get an order that will compel ECN to implement continuous voter registration and direct the President to set a date for Keetmanshoop Urban constituency by-election to fill the vacancy left by Maxie Minnaar who died in August.
They further sought an order to set aside ECN’s decision not to relax the timeline as contemplated by the Electoral Act in relation to the registration of organisations. They furthermore asked the court to compel ECN to adopt measures to mitigate Covid-19 regulations in order to enhance the right to political activity in the country.
The legal team of the respondents argued that AR as an organisation has no locus standi to be heard in the Electoral Tribunal and the tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the merits of the application. They further argued the Electoral Act does not empower ECN to relax the timeline for registration of organisations and should it relax the timeline, it would be in violation of its own laws. Furthermore, ECN will need a cut-off period for voter registration because a voter register has to be compiled.
ECN claims that the suspension of the election for Keetmanshoop Urban was done according to the Act.
Shortly after the ruling, AR issued a statement describing their displeasure with the judiciary, saying matters of constitutional importance, especially electoral matters, are disposed of on technicalities rather than their merits.
“The Affirmative Repositioning movement will not permit injustice to prevail, whether these injustices arise from electoral matters or matters relating to land or human rights in our country. No amount of judicial technical rulings will stop the Affirmative Repositioning movement from ventilating issues of constitutional importance,” reads the statement. In their application, AR was represented by Kadhila Amoomo, whilst, Eva Shifitoka and Eliaser Nekwaya represented ECN and the President.