ECN must learn to be ruthless

26 November 2020 | Opinion

The Electoral Commission of Namibian (ECN) has had to face several incidents of rule violations by various election stakeholders in the build-up to yesterday’s voting.

What has been disappointing is the ECN’s apparent lack of appetite to bring down the hammer and deal with perpetrators decisively. The danger with that lax approach is that it sets a very dangerous precedent that the ECN would not be able to contain in the future.

Rules are there to be applied to the letter, and not to be left to the whims and moods of those appointed to implement them.

Recently, retired General Martin Shalli got away with remarks that Swapo opponents must be ‘killed’ by having their throats slit. There are not many worse electoral transgressions than that.

In that particular case, ECN only reacted after Shalli had already apologised – as if they were scared to take him on prior to his guilt admission.

Last week, two polling officials were briefly dismissed for openly campaigning for Swapo at Otjiwarongo. Without any basis in law, the two officials were immediately reinstated.

Yesterday, reports emerged that two police officers guarding election materials at Otjiwarongo had left the voting venue the previous night with such material and only returned it yesterday morning – against all electoral protocols.

The officers were let scot-free and allowed to continue working at the polling venue. The ECN has no authority over the officers, but it had the power to demand new guards for its material.

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