THE Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says sworn statements will not be used as proof of citizenship in the country’s next elections.
This information is contained in a 75-page document compiled by the ECN after consultations with various role-players regarding the amendment of the Electoral Act.
Other suggestions made at the consultations held in Windhoek this year were that the electoral body’s top brass should be subjected to lifestyle audits.
The electoral watchdog has over the years faced criticism over the use of sworn statements as proof of citizenship.
In 2000, then prime minister Hage Geingob said 280 742 (31,9%) prospective voters out of 879 537 registered by December 1999 had done so through sworn statements.
This issue cropped up again during an ECN meeting in September. According to the minutes of that meeting, it is believed that individuals who are not Namibian citizens are in possession of voter cards.
“Another opinion was that sworn statements should be removed,” the minutes read.
The ECN responded to this by saying “sworn statements as a method to proof identity will be removed from the act”.
“Another opinion was that people are issued voter registration cards without having an ID card, passport or birth certificate,” the minutes said.
It was proposed that the system should “be cleaned and people be asked to return voter cards which were illegally obtained”.
The ECN says a new general registration process of voters will take place in 2024.
“And all issues emanating from the previous general registration of voters that was conducted in terms of the provision of the previous Electoral Act will be dealt with accordingly.
“If people were able to register under the previous act, they will no longer be able to do so under the [new] act,” the electoral body says.
Another matter raised during the consultations was the issue of investigating top electoral officials’ sources of income.
“There should be a voluntary audit of the senior management and commissioners, and one by the auditor general (lifestyle),” read a suggestion.
The ECN says “the proposal is noted”.
There were also discussions around the independence of the electoral body.
The ECN also supports a proposal to amend the Electoral Act to move the election body under the watch of the National Assembly (NA).
It was proposed during a stakeholders’ consultation on the electoral amendment bill that the electoral law be changed to subject the ECN to checks and balances.
The commission says this proposal is acceptable, and that “without the National Assembly (NA), there will be no accountability”.
However, the commission rejects calls by political parties for a national conference to determine and agree on the establishment of a fully independent electoral commission.
The ECN rejects the proposal, citing that the Electoral Act already provides for the appointment of members of the commission.
These proposals formed part of the two-day stakeholders’s consultation on amendments to the Electoral Act which took place in Windhoek last week.
Also, the issue of the head of state appointing election commissioners was discussed.
It was proposed that presidential nominees be abolished and that the eight nominees be appointed by political parties through the NA.
ENC chairperson Elsie Nghikembua rejected the proposal of Martin Lukato of the National Democratic Party as unsuitable.
She says election commissioners are appointed in terms of the Electoral Act, adding that “we are doing our work independently”.
The electoral commission also agrees to proposed changes to Section 11, which empowered the president to remove a member of the electoral commission with the approval of the NA.
The proposed change is that Section 11 is amended to read “that the selection committee will approve the removal and that the president will then remove the member”.
The ECN has also taken note of a proposal that only Namibians with national identity cards should be allowed to vote.