• May 29th, 2020

Ignorance of the law is no excuse

It has been a whirlwind couple of days. Some commentators have thrown around the word constitutional crisis as the misinterpretation of a section of the Electoral Act by political parties took centre stage. Everyone seems to have been caught off guard by the law that requires employees in the public service as well as public-office bearers to resign before taking running for office. 

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) stuck to its guns 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. 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.”

While the state of confusion can be understood, the talks of some simply saying they will ignore the requirements is indeed worrisome.  Ignorance of the law is not an excuse and it is unfortunate that some politicians from both the ruling Swapo and opposition unashamedly defending what was wrong. 

As we pen this editorial, at least 16 Swapo MP hopefuls have succumbed to pressure and resigned from their respective positions in the public service as well as public-office bearers. Among those who resigned are National Council chairperson Margareth Mensah-Williams, who is guaranteed a seat in the National Assembly next March, owing to her favourable position 24 on the Swapo MP list. 

Verna Sinimbo of Rundu, Hafeni Ndemula from Walvis Bay as well as the likes of Modestus Amutse, Werner Iita, Katrina Shimbulu and Mandela Kapere have also quit their jobs to contest for National Assembly seats on the party ticket. 

This is indeed a welcoming development and those who complied with the Electoral Act as difficult as it may have been, should be commended for demonstrating outstanding principles, including putting the party first.
In conclusion, we hope the events of the last two weeks or so will serve as a serious eye opener and that lawmakers will continue to abide by the law without fear or favour.

Staff Reporter
2019-10-18 07:59:33 | 7 months ago

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