Popular Democratic Movement says it never deliberately broke the law when it decided to amend its party list of officials who were sworn in the National Assembly in March 2020.
“It is paramount to highlight that the PDM never engaged in an exercise of wilfully or intentionally breaking the law. The PDM followed its list as endorsed by the central committee of September 2019 and followed established electoral precedence in the nomination of its members to fill seats in the National Assembly following the November 2019 National Assembly elections,” said PDM secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe.
Thus, the party is consulting internal party structures to find consensus within the confines of the rule of law while maintaining cohesion within the party.
The party issued a statement yesterday shortly after the Supreme Court set aside the swearing-in of Esmeralda Esme !Aebes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Zeripi Tjeundo, Godfrey Kupuzo Mwilima, Timotheus Sydney Shihumbu and Pieter Mostert – and declared it unlawful.
The court ordered the group to vacate their seats in the August house, and for Frans Bertolini, Charmaine Tjirare, Yvette Areas, Maximilliant Katjimune, Raymond Diergaardt and Mike Venaani to be sworn in with immediate effect.
Approached for comment yesterday, Maximillant Katjimune, a youth and student leader, said, “I do not want to comment on this issue at the moment. But, once things have settled, I will definitely voice my opinion”.
The court held that the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has no powers to amend a party list that has been gazetted.
“The acceptance of the nominations by PDM of the six persons not on the published election list was contrary to the Act. I cannot see on what basis this can be stated to be unconstitutional in the narrow sense. PDM nominated them – and in constitutional terms, that is what is envisaged. PDM was thus not prejudiced in terms of the number of seats it could occupy in the National Assembly,” said judges Theo Frank, Peter Shivute and Petrus Damaseb.
The court further said it is up to the National Assembly to decide what legal action to take in relation to the personal benefits granted, such as remuneration, allowances, perks and privileges that were given to those who were occupying the seats unlawfully.
Last year, PDM, alongside ECN, appealed the ruling of the High Court, which upheld an urgent application that Tjirare and Hamata lodged after amendments were made to the original list compiled after the electoral college of the party.
According to the High Court, the actions of PDM, endorsed by the ECN, of removing names of persons who had been voted for by voters in a secret ballot, pursuant to a free election and gazetted in terms of the law and replacing them with persons nominated by PDM, is contrary to the letter of the law and the spirit of the country’s constitution.
Thus, the High Court regards their action as unlawful and invalid.
The PDM in its statement said it is cognizant of the fact that the law is essentially about interpretation, and the Supreme Court differed with the interpretation of the ECN and the PDM around the applicability of certain provisions of the Electoral Act and the Namibian Constitution.
The judges stated that the courts must respect the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution and should not interfere in the processes of other branches of government unless mandated to do this in the limited circumstances mentioned in the judgment.
The appeals were dismissed with costs.