Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) chairperson Elsie Nghikembua has issued a stern warning to polling officials, saying they should not be seen, or perceived as taking sides when performing their work.
“Beware to exercise impartiality at all times in your dealings with voters, election agents, observers and must not be seen, or perceived, as taking sides. Once you pass this, you can confidently say that you are on the right track,” Nghikembua said during a workshop at Rundu for polling officials ahead of tomorrow’s Ncamagoro constituency by-election.
The by-election has been necessitated by the passing of councillor Johannes Sikondo, who died on 19 September this year. Five candidates will take part in the by-election, while the constituency has 3 818 registered voters.
Nghikembua said the commission is ready and well prepared to conduct the by-election as per the commission’s election calendar.
“The election calendar is a document that outlines electoral activities and timelines that are critical for the preparation and successful execution of various tasks and responsibilities by various stakeholders in order to ensure the delivery of free, fair and credible elections,” she said.
Therefore, Nghikembua said polling officials’ role in assisting the ECN to fulfil its mission is of utmost importance.
“That is why you are called upon to carry out your responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, transparency, fairness, commitment & professionalism throughout the process,” she said.
She said it is important polling officials understand the position they have been assigned and what is expected of them.
“The training provided you with a platform to learn, update and sharpen your skills and exchange experiences. It is therefore important that you understand and appreciate that your individual actions, and indeed our collective actions, can make or break our democracy.”
As such, she said, the responsibility on polling officials and indeed the ECN is enormous. “It is not to be taken lightly,” said Nghikembua who will oversee her first election as ECN chairperson.
She also called on presiding officers to ensure that they have been allocated the correct ballot paper books and in the right quantities before the opening of the polls as well as ensures the secrecy of the ballot as prescribed under section 71.
“It is important that you are fully acquainted with your respective roles and perform them with dedication. We require that you perform your functions diligently and effectively. The commission will not condone mediocrity and sluggishness in the performance of your duties.”