The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has elected against holding a by-election in three months at Keetmanshoop Urban constituency to fill the vacancy left by Maxie Minnaar who died last week in a Windhoek hospital. Minnaar was elected into the position in January this year during a by-election, which was necessitated by the resignation of former councillor Hilma Nicanor, who opted to stand as a candidate for a seat in the National Assembly during the November general election last year.
Minnaar was elected to the position on the ticket of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM). The Electoral Act of 2014 allows for the holding of a by-election within 90 days if a vacancy arises. However, ECN’s chief electoral and referenda officer Theo Mujoro said considering the economic upheavals in the country and compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, the commission is of the view that it would not be prudent to conduct a by-election just few days before the regional council election. The regional council and local authority elections are billed for November this year.
Technically, Mujoro said, this implies that the ECN would conduct two elections, around the same time to fill the same vacancy in the same constituency. He said the scenario of conducting the Keetmanshoop Urban constituency by-election a few days before the regional vote presents a dilemma that the would-be councillor would serve only two-weeks and a half.
Similarly, the financial implication of holding such elections is estimated at N$1 million. “This would amount to wasteful expenditure and results in hardship for the Namibian taxpayers to spend N$1 million on a by-election under such circumstances,” he said. He said the commission’s view is that when one has regard to the whole of Section 10 of the Regional Councils Act, it is clear that the legislature did not want a situation to arise where a member of the a regional council vacates an office and that office remains unoccupied until the next general regional council elections. “It is also ECN’s contention that it could not have the legislature’s intention to fill a vacancy for two weeks and a half only, since that will definitely lead to an absurdity,” he said.