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LPM wants disputed vote declared

2020-12-11  Roland Routh

LPM wants disputed vote declared

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has maintained there is no need to have the outcome of the regional council and local authority elections in Mariental Rural constituency, as well as at Koës, Aroab and Stampriet nullified. 
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and the LPM are involved in a court challenge over the conduct of the elections in the one constituency and three local authorities.  

The ECN brought an application in the Windhoek High Court to have the ballots cast and the elections held on 25 November at Koës, Aroab and Stampriet local authorities and the Mariental Rural declared null and void.
They are further asking the court to direct that fresh elections be held at the localities within 14 days from the court order.
Furthermore, the ECN wants the court to waive the processes of the Electoral Act, such as holding of supplementary registration. 

However, the LPM is demanding that ECN follows the procedure, including declaring the winners of the recently held elections in the areas concerned.
According to LPM’s lawyer Henry Shimutwikeni, while there were problems experienced at the polling stations in these localities, the problems were not material enough to have an impact on the overall election result.
According to government attorney Jabulani Ncube, who appeared on behalf of ECN, the irregularities that occurred at the mentioned polling stations were of such a nature that in essence, no elections took place at those centres; thus, the voters of that area were disenfranchised. 

According to the founding affidavit of chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro, several irregularities occurred at three polling points in the Mariental Rural, namely Glencoin, Kalahari Proefplaas and the Stampriet Police Station.
He further said that one of the irregularities is that the polling station at Glencoin closed four hours before it was supposed to, causing a material indiscretion in that it disenfranchised possible voters.

He further pointed out that incorrect ballot papers were used to conduct the elections at Koës and Stampriet.
“These glaring errors and omissions subjugated the voters of those particular areas of their rights to exercise their right to choose a candidate of their choice. This is contrary to the tenor and spirit of their guaranteed constitutional rights to exercise their political rights,” Mujoro stated.

He further said the irregularities are so material that they necessitate the reinstitution of the election voting process as far as ballot casting is concerned.
Shimutwikeni, on the other hand, argued that the irregularities were in no way no material that it influenced the outcome of the elections. In fact, he said, 88.9% of the voters cast their ballot and eight out of the nine polling points were announced in Mariental Rural.

He further castigated the ECN for coming to court with very little information to help the court come to a just decision. 
“The ECN brought these applications arrogantly with very little information, which leaves the court in disarray and uninformed,” he said.

“The ECN, as the custodian of elections in Namibia, has all the information needed, but they chose to come to court with as little information as possible.”
He went on to say the onus was on the ECN to show on a balance of probabilities that the election was not conducted in a fair and credible manner according to the principles contained in the Electoral Act and that the irregularities influenced the outcome of the election.     
Shimutwikeni asked the court to compel the ECN to finish the process, declare the winner and be done with it.

2020-12-11  Roland Routh

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