ECN fesses up: Ndonga Linena was our mistake

16 September 2021 | Politics

Kenya Kambowe



Rundu

Outgoing Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) chairperson Notemba Tjipueja said Swapo’s Michael Kampota was wrongly was declared the winner of the 25 November 2020 Ndonga Linena Constituency election.

Tjipueja made the comment on Tuesday during Namibian Sun’s daily show The Evening Review, where she also indicated that the ECN takes full responsibility for the mistake.

“Unfortunately, what has happened at a number of polling stations is that the presiding officers ignored this specific legal provision and they actually they rejected the ballot papers which should not have been rejected,” she said.

“I think as a responsible election commission, we should take accountability because these are the people who were appointed by us for the process.”

Tjipueja’s remarks come just a day after the electoral court ruled that the 27 November 2020 Ndonga Linena results be declared null and void.

The court further ordered that a recount be conducted and results be announced within the next 20 days.

Persistence pays off

All this emanated from an aggrieved All People’s Party (APP) who took the ECN to the electoral court earlier this year disputing the Ndonga Linena results.

APP was adamant that 40 of the 57 rejected ballots announced at the time should have not been rejected because the voters’ intention was to pick their candidate, Djami Daniel, who lost by a mere 12 votes.

At first, APP only wanted the court to grant them an order to access the election materials in order to prove that some of rejected ballots should have been counted in their favour.

That order was given in August, however, to APP’s surprise, 53 of the 57 spoilt ballots could not be traced.

It was on that basis it again approached the court for a recount.

A default judgement was given in the APP’s favour because ECN failed to oppose the application.

However, with Tjipueja’s revelation, it appears ECN had time to rectify its mistake by removing the 53 ballots from those initially declared as rejected and placed them amongst those eligible to be counted.

Risks

Meanwhile, Tjipueja also spoke on issues such as the challenges that could lead to such errors, which includes human error during elections.

“I think you need to appreciate that these people are being trained for a certain period. Financially, we cannot keep them in training for a very long period so these people, we do have a database where we try to use people who already had electoral experience, but of course we are relying on people who do not work or have the loyalty towards ECN on a full-time basis,” she said.

“So, those risks are always there when you employ people who are not fully employed by you or who have that loyalty or have the integrated values of the system as they are just there for the time of the elections and then they are gone. That human element of error or negligence, whatever you may call it, it can creep in. It does creep in at certain times.”

On Tuesday, reported that APP president Ignatius Shixwameni has labelled the ECN fraudulent organisation, and called on its senior leaders to resign.

Tjipueja said she understands his reaction to the situation.

“We understand the dissatisfaction of the leader of the APP with the outcome of the election at the time, but it is important to note that we have legal processes in place where dissatisfied parties or associations can go to court and seek for a remedy,” she said.

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