WINDHOEK - The Popular Dem-ocratic Movement (PDM) has blamed the Electoral Commission of Namibia for the pathetic turnout of voters during the recently held by-elections in Walvis Bay, Keetmanshoop, Gobabis and Windhoek.
The party’s secretary-general Manuel Ngaringombe said the electoral body did not offer sufficient voter education in the run-up to the by-elections.
“We noted with great concern the low turnout during the last by-elections and this was due to insufficient voter education by the ECN to ensure that all constituencies’ men and women alike understand their rights in their political system,” he said.
The by-elections held on 15 January were necessitated by last year’s resignations of regional councillors Margareth Mensah-Williams of Khomasdal, Hilma Nicanor of Keetmanshoop Urban, Hafeni Ndemula of Walvis Bay Urban and Phillipus Katamelo of Gobabis.
In Gobabis, Augustinus Tebele of Swapo was unanimously voted in, while the ruling party also retained Khomasdal after the majority of the voters gave Samuel Angolo the nod. At Walvis Bay, independent candidate Knowledge Ipinge was the victor, while in Keetmanshoop, Maxie Minnaar of the Landless People’s Movement was elected. Ngaringombe also blamed the low turnout of voters on the timing of the elections, saying the polls were conducted on the official opening day of the 2020 school year. “This incident might have been the main reason for the low voter turnout,” he said.
He said his party is fully aware of the provisions of the Electoral Act 5 of 2014, which state that a by-election should be held within 90 days after the vacancy occurs.
Therefore, he urged the ECN and all stakeholders to be considerate towards the electorate and address those loopholes in future.
“We recommend ECN and the lawmakers to consider the act to address a situation where elections are clashing with important days on the national calendar, such as school opening days and Independence Day,” he said.
“We strongly believe that for an election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities, and must be sufficiently knowledgeable and well informed to cast ballots that are legally valid and to participate meaningfully in the voting process,” he added.
Attempts to get comment from ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro proved futile yesterday.
2020-01-24 07:25:12 | 28 days ago