I don’t know ECN bosses – Geingob
07 September 2021 | Politics
President Hage Geingob last week put Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) bosses on the spot, asking if he has ever met them clandestinely to discuss altering election results.
The president was driving home his point that government has not influenced the outcome of elections and will never do so.
The opposition has often claimed vote-rigging and has dragged ECN and the ruling party Swapo to court over claims of altering electoral results.
In 2020, the court ordered ECN to stop using electronic voting machines (EVMs) – which provide no verifiable paper trail – after Dr Panduleni Itula, who ran as an independent presidential candidate against Geingob, challenged the results.
Geingob last week denied such interference during a courtesy call to State House by ECN bosses – including outgoing chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja.
Tjipueja and ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro used the engagement with Geingob to update him on planned reforms the electoral body wants to undertake.
Denouncing talks of interference, Geingob asked Mujoro whether they had ever met to discuss election rigging.
“Did I ever meet you one-on-one to talk?” he asked, to which Mujoro responded: “No, sir”.
Continuing, Geingob said: “You see, I don’t know him, he has been in charge, so if interference is there, he could have been called and asked what are you doing and so forth.
“So, we shouldn’t create problems where there is no problem. All we are saying is that you want to move on to that independence or you want to perfect it, the power to hire people, we have to be careful about that hiring; it is a problem everywhere so if it is a question of hiring people, buying the cars and so on, do it,” Geingob said of the planned reforms.
Meanwhile, Tjipueja informed Geingob that a study had been commissioned to look at revising the ECN Act because of amendments made to the constitution in 2014.
“We are reviewing the Electoral Act to ensure it is in line with the constitution.”
This was necessitated by the fact that the ECN was autonomous and to remove bottlenecks that hindered the operations of the ECN to carry out day-to-day activities.
“We are not reinventing the wheel, we have looked at international best practices,” Tjipueja said.