The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has questioned the preparedness of the Electoral Commission of Namibia, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, ahead of the regional council and local authority elections in November this year.
The country has seen an upsurge in new Covid-19 infections, especially in Windhoek, which has been declared the new epicentre of the virus. PDM secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe on Friday wrote to ECN chief electoral and referenda officer Theo Mujoro questioning how prepared the electoral body is to conduct the November elections amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the state of emergency that may be extended when it lapses next month.
“It is important to ask whether ECN is prepared to conduct these elections, and what measures, has the ECN taken to ensure that these elections are held safe and credibly amidst Covid-19 and a possible extension of the state of emergency,” said Ngaringombe.
“How will the commission be able to conduct the supplementary registration of voters slated to take place from 7-15 September 2020, and the election itself on 25 November 2020, while there is a restriction on gatherings?”
He also wanted to know what mechanisms the ECN will employ to ensure that the voter registration numbers, as well as the polling numbers themselves, will not be affected due to the Covid-19 restriction on gatherings.
“If the ECN is satisfied that the elections will not be free, fair and credible in terms of our questions at a), and b), what further actions or modalities will ECN put in place?”
Ngaringombe also questioned as to what modalities the ECN would put in place to ensure that political parties complete their internal nomination and vetting processes amidst Covid-19 and the restrictions on social gatherings.
Meanwhile, the ECN last month unveiled its Covid-19 draft mitigation strategy, which outlines specific plans that would be implemented to lessen the impact of the global coronavirus crisis ahead of this year’s regional council and local authority elections. Under the draft ECN Covid-19 mitigation strategy, ECN said it will use online recruitment platforms to receive and review staff
For in-person interviews, the ECN said it has identified facilities with sufficient space to allow for required physical distance, provide hand sanitisers and ensure the use of facemasks, especially for pregnant women, elderly person and persons with pre-existing conditions.
On election day, the electoral body said, even if no voters or election officials experience any symptoms of the virus, all precautions would be taken as if any person in the polling station could be infected. The wearing of a facemask, the commission said, would be mandatory for all persons coming to register as voters and to all voters, including all electoral officials. – email@example.com