Tjipueja defends ECN in PDM parly fight

31 August 2021 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK

Advocate Notemba Tjipueja, the outgoing chair of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), has denied claims that she has failed to implement a High Court order to declare eleven ejected Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) members as duly nominated members of parliament.

This is in response to lawyer Norman Tjombe who represents some of the aggrieved parties, who now asked the High Court to compel PDM and the ECN to heed the Court order.

According to Tjombe, the two parties are hiding behind a failed attempt to lodge an appeal at the Supreme Court.

“PDM and ECN are knocking on the doors of the Supreme Court. Their call has not been answered yet and they have not yet been allowed to enter. Whether they will be permitted entrance, is speculative. They seek the suspension or stay of a court order based on speculation,” he said.

Slippery slope

Tjombe added that it does not augur well that two powerful institutions, the official political opposition and a constitutional election management authority, would ignore court orders, for that matter relating to the election of members to the National Assembly.

“It is a dangerous slippery slope into anarchy, which must be arrested forthwith.”

Tjombe asserts further that the ECN’s conduct in this matter is frivolous, unfair, objectionable, unreasonable and unjustifiable.

According to him, Tjipueja should have implemented the court order immediately after the appeal had lapsed.

“Opportunities were afforded for the ECN and PDM to expedite the appeal process, including the applications for condonation and reinstatement. In a wilful disregard for the court order, these opportunities were not taken up.

“A choice had been made and the election was to continue to violate the court order. No serious consideration was given to the correct interpretation of the Rules of the Supreme Court and the impact of ignoring a court order.

“Their attitude is that the Rules of the Supreme Court provides for the 18 Annexure “G” to the applicants’ founding affidavit. withdrawal of an appeal – they have not withdrawn the appeal, and therefore the Rules do not apply to them. In other words, they are above the law,” he said.

On appeal

Tjipueja vehemently denies these claims and instead insist that the matter was indeed lodged with the Supreme Court.

“We have not failed, and I have not failed because the matter is on appeal. I am sure you know that when a matter is on appeal, any order that was given by the High Court cannot be implemented until the Supreme Court has sat on it and given a judgment. So, there is no failure on our part,” she said.

Matti Asino, government attorney on behalf of the ECN, also insists that there is an appeal lodged with the Supreme Court.

“There is an application there in the court and we are just waiting,” he said.

The Office of Judiciary could not give answers in this regard.

Background

After the 2019 elections, in which PDM won its highest political score with 16 seats, the party ejected six members from the gazetted list and replaced them with six new faces that were never gazetted as is required by law.

Those who stand to be removed from the National Assembly, should the electoral court judgement be effected, are Esmeralda !Aebes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Tjeundo, Godfrey Mwilima, Timotheus Shihumbu and Pieter Mostert

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