Weapons seized at rallies …police chief urges political tolerance
WINDHOEK - Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga said weapons, including firearms, have been seized at political rallies across the country as campaigning for the general election heats up.
Namibians will go to the polls later this month to elect a new president as well as members of the National Assembly.
In an interview with New Era yesterday, Ndeitunga specifically singled out dangerous weapons such as pistols, with rounds loaded into the chamber.
Ndeitunga said these incidences were observed in Outapi during the Swapo election manifesto launch and also in Keetmanshoop during the ruling party’s rally.
He said in Outapi, the police confiscated about seven firearms.
“I am not talking about knives. I am more concerned about the firearms. Nobody should take firearms to rallies. The law provides the freedom of peaceful assembly without firearms,” he said.
“I am very much concerned about people taking firearms or dangerous weapons to political rallies. That is not a battlefield. It doesn’t need citizens to go there armed. If they want to be armed, they should join Operation Kalahari Desert.”
He vowed not to hand over the confiscated firearms to the owners for now, until such time he is satisfied why they are taking firearms to rallies.
On political tolerance, Ndeitunga said he is happy how parties are conducting themselves in the run up to November 27.
Petty fights over trees
He reported that there have been minor cases of parties fighting over a tree to hang their flags at Mix settlement outside Windhoek.
The other, according to Ndeitunga, is an incident that happened some weeks ago where a political party’s campaign material was destroyed.
“We also had an incident of presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula who complained about some remarks that might be construed as political threats towards him. I think in comparison, there is a high degree of political tolerance up to now,” he said.
He believes if political parties continue this trend of peaceful campaigns, Namibia will portray a positive picture nationally and globally.
However, Ndeitunga said it’s regrettable that some political parties did not sign the election code of conduct.
Chaos broke out last week at Windhoek Country Club where the Code of Conduct of Political Parties was supposed to be signed, when presidential independent candidate Dr Panduleni Itula and opposition leaders refused to sign the code.
Only Swapo Party and Martin Lukato’s National Democratic Party (NDP) signed the code of conduct, which binds them to a commitment that will reinforce a culture of tolerance towards the contesting candidates and political parties.
He wishes them to sign so they can conduct their business in accordance to the code of conduct.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah also weighed in on the issue of political tolerance ahead of the general elections.
He said every citizen is duty-bound in fostering and promoting tolerance.
“It’s not far-fetched to say that in Namibia we are seeing social media being weaponised as a tool to attack and humiliate people whose views we don’t like. A lot of inaccurate things or information is being posted on social media, on behalf of this and that party or this and that candidate, yet we don’t see parties or candidate proactively repudiate such misinformation. Sadly, what we saw at the signing of the election code of conduct is a serious case of intolerance and uncalled for in a democratic society,” Kamwanyah remarked.
Political commentator Graham Hopwood said the code of conduct is an important statement of intent, especially on the part of political parties.
“Already one hears of statements from leading politicians which could have the effect of inciting violence against other parties and candidates. The ECN should reconvene the parties to get them to sign the code. Signing may not be a legal requirement but complying with the code is. All party backing for the code of conduct would be a first step towards ensuring these elections will be peaceful,” Hopwood opined.
He observed in the past Namibia’s election campaigns have mostly been peaceful although there have been incidents of hate speech, intimidation and occasional violent attacks.
“However, we cannot become complacent and must stress the importance of political tolerance.”
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora questioned “illegal centres” during verification that he claimed would be exclusively only open to ECN and Swapo officials.
He said this is one of the reasons they refuse to sign.
ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro yesterday said it is regrettable that the parties refused to sign the code of conduct.
“It was an effort by the commission to try and build harmonious relations. It’s not a legal obligation to sign the code of conduct. It’s a good thing to do. I fully agree with sentiments of the inspector general that it was well intended. It’s unfortunate that some parties refused to sign,” Mujoro said.
Mujoro maintained the ECN met the political parties’ demand to be sent the code of conduct before the signing ceremony.
Equally, he said, ECN also made a written commitment for special arrangement to be made to allow political parties at all material stages of election results, including access to the final result centre.
2019-11-05 08:19:09 | 9 days ago