Official opposition, the Popular for Democratic Movement (PDM) says the confusion over who is to represent the party in the new National Assembly to be sworn-in next month, was engineered by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).
According to PDM, the ECN changed the initial list of nominated candidates for last November’s National Assembly polls and removed names of serving public officials.
This followed a directive by the ECN that all politicians working serving as elected officials at regional and local authority levels should resign from their positions if they are to be nominated as candidates to the National Assembly.
Speaking to CND-News on Tuesday, PDM Secretary General Manuel Ngaringombe narrated how the party refused to remove names from its initial list submitted to the ECN because nomination does not mean job security.
“In PDM, we fought this thing and have been fighting it. You cannot ask people to resign from their jobs before elections because if they do not get elected to the National Assembly, we will be sitting with unemployed people,” explained Ngaringombe.
“The ECN disqualified some of the people from the list which meant those at the bottom shifted up on the list. This is the list they gazetted before the elections despite our petition. We challenged that interpretation of the Electoral Act by the ECN which was aimed at disadvantaging some of our members,” he said.
The new list and the withdrawal of Reggie Reginald Diergaardt who was at number 15, saw youthful politicians Nanguvei Charmaine Tjirare, Hidipo Hamata, Yvette Araes, and Max Katjimune appearing on the list at positions 12, 13, 14 and 16.
However, PDM which obtained 16 seats in those elections, maintains that it is operating on its initial list submitted to the ECN and will not consider the gazetted list.
This forced Tjirare, Hamata, Araes and Katjimune to write to the ECN through their lawyers demanding that the gazetted list be considered to include them in the new National Assembly.
“We never changed our list as it is now claimed. We stood by our list as submitted. It is the ECN that misinterpreted the Act and caused this confusion,” added Ngaringombe.
“We are not at war with any of our members. This is a matter between them and the ECN. We are simply cited as a party of interest.”
“It was never us”
Responding to CND-News on the matter, The Chief Electoral and Referenda Officer at the ECN Theo Mujoro, refused to take any blame for the mess within the opposition party.
“ECN did not ‘misinterpret’ the provisions of the Electoral Act. In fact we followed the Act and Constitution to the letter,” remarked Mujoro.
“The PDM provided us with a list of candidates for the nomination process, stating under oath that the candidates comply with the Act and Constitution.
“The process of nomination was then completed and the election held. After the election, the Electoral Act does not provide for the process of filling of seats a party won in Parliament.”
He added: “This process is only provided for in the Constitution – Schedule 4(4) which clearly states that a political party which qualify for seats in terms of paragraphs (2) and (3) shall be free to choose in its own discretion which persons to nominate as members of the National Assembly to fill the said seats.”
He explained that the ECN at no stage ‘unilaterally’ changed any list. According to him, these are two very different processes, with different articles of the Constitution being applicable.
“The one is nominations before the election and the other has to do with members of the National Assembly.”