Namibia: Court to Decide ECN’s Election Challenge

THE Electoral Court is due to announce today if the regional council election in the Mariental Rural constituency and local authority elections held at Stampriet, Koës and Aroab on 25 November are being declared null and void.

Judges Shafimana Ueitele, Herman Oosthuizen and Orben Sibeya on Wednesday reserved their judgement on an application by the Electoral Commission of Namibia to have the elections declared null and void. Ueitele said the court would announce its decision this afternoon.

The Landless People’s Movement, which scored victories in the regional councillor elections in 10 constituencies of the Hardap and //Kharas regions, is opposing the application to have the election in the Mariental Rural constituency set aside.

The LPM’s lawyer, Henry Shimutwikeni, argued that while there had been errors in the Mariental Rural election, the ECN did not prove that this affected the outcome of the election or that the poll in the constituency did not comply with the Electoral Act’s principles for elections.

“Holistically speaking, the [Mariental Rural] election was conducted in accordance with the principles,” Shimutwikeni argued.

Government lawyer Jabulani Ncube argued that there were irregularities in the regional council election in the Mariental Rural constituency which were so material that the election should be declared null and void.

The ECN’s chief electoral officer, Theo Mujoro, says in an affidavit filed at the court that voters were disenfranchised when a mobile polling team in the constituency left a voting point about four hours earlier than it was supposed to. Because of this, voters who arrived at the polling point after the mobile team had left could not exercise their right to vote.

One of the first voters at that polling point also complained that the ballot paper had the names of three candidates on it, instead of the four candidates who took part in the election in Mariental Rural, Mujoro says.

The same mobile polling team issued ballots for the Stampriet local authority election to voters at a farm where those ballots were not supposed to be used, Mujoro says.

While candidates from Swapo, the LPM and the Popular Democratic Movement, as well as one independent candidate, took part in the Mariental Rural regional council election, three parties – Swapo, the LPM and the PDM – took part in the Stampriet local authority election.

Mujoro has also informed the court that in the Koës and Aroab local authority elections, ballot papers meant for the Keetmanshoop local authority election were mistakenly used.

The ECN would have to hold fresh elections in the Mariental Rural constituency and at Stampriet, Koës and Aroab if the 25 November elections there are ruled invalid.

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