ECN on the road to independence

20 September 2021 | Politics

JEANETTE DIERGAARDT

WINDHOEK

In his last days as chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), Notemba Tjipueja announced that the process of making the ECN an independent body is under way.

The ECN has obtained the legal go-ahead to become and independent body and now needs to work together with various other government players to make the move a successful one.

To ensure public trust in the ECN, Tjipueja said, it is important for the ECN to be seen as an independent body free from any political pressures.

Support is needed for the move to be successful. Key players include President Hage Geingob, the prime minister, the attorney-general, the ministry of urban and rural development, and the ministry of home affairs and immigration.

According to Article 94B of the Namibian Constitution, the Electoral Commission must remain impartial and perform tasks and make decisions independently.

Lukewarm reception

According to Graham Hopwood, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, the information given by the ECN does not give a clear outline as to how the idea is to be implemented.

“The ECN should focus on its current deficiencies rather than a philosophical independence,” he said.

A main issue of concern that Hopwood feels needs urgent attention is the issue of voter registration.

Political analyst Dr André du Pisanie of the University of Namibia said he could not comment on the process, as he was working too closely with the newly appointed ECN chairperson, Elsie Nghikembwa.

Nghikembwa is studying toward a doctorate which focuses on making the ECN an independent institute.

In its drive to become independent, the ECN will be assisted by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), based in Sweden.

Namibia was one of the countries involved in the establishment of IDEA in 1995, along with South Africa, India, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

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