PDM battle heats up

11 February 2020 | Politics

The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) finds itself in the middle of a storm over seats in the National Assembly (NA).

Four disgruntled party members, who are set to lose out after the PDM's decision to make a U-turn on its gazetted candidate list, have given the party until 13 February to answer or face a court battle.

The ECN said recently its legal advice was that the “PDM is legally entitled and permitted to include the six members it has included in the list addressed to the chief electoral and referenda officer Theo Mujoro”.

This legal advice is “untenable”, said the four disgruntled PDM members - youth leaders Hidipo Hamata and Maximilliant Katjimune, Charmaine Tjirare and Yvette Araes. PDM leader McHenry Venaani said the prerogative of sending representatives to parliament lies solely with the party under Schedule 4, Subsection 4 of the country's constitution.

“Miss Tjirare who leads the group is employed by Nust, a public institution. She did not resign when her name was gazetted, yet claims others should not be considered that did exactly the same. Hidipo Hamata is number 17 on the gazetted list. We only have 16 MPs. How is his (claim) even valid?

“It's an act of indiscipline as none of them can justify which process made them to be high on the list? Which body elected them? The party is structurally bound and its structures reign supreme,” Venaani said.

Mujoro said they are aware of these developments.

The PDM is set to triple its presence in the National Assembly after securing 16 seats in last November's general election.

Last October, the ECN issued a directive that all politicians employed by the public service as well as in national, regional and local councils must resign from their jobs upon accepting nomination for the National Assembly.

The PDM gave in, after initially objecting, but shortly after the election results were released, it changed its tune and said the ECN cannot prescribe to it who to send to parliament.

The ECN sought a legal opinion, which has now allowed the six people affected by the directive to be returned to the PDM list.

The disgruntled members, who are represented by Tjombe and Elago Incorporated, demand that the declaration of National Assembly members be suspended until the matter is resolved.

“It is common because the PDM obtained 16.65% of the national vote, which translated into 16 seats in the NA. Subsequent to the elections, Reggie Reginald Diergaardt at number 15 withdrew his name on the list, which resulted in the names on the list moving up, and our client Hidipo Hamata moved to number 16, and Mike Rapuikua Venaani, previously number 16, moved to number 15. As a result, our clients, being at numbers 12, 13, 14 and 16 on the list, are therefore duly elected members of NA, as contemplated in the Electoral Act and the Namibian Constitution,” their lawyers said.

They further demand copies of all the correspondence between the ECN and the PDM relative to the National Assembly candidates, including any and all lists furnished to the electoral commission by the party.

They also demand a copy of the legal advice obtained by the ECN from advocate William Mokare on 28 January on or before close of business tomorrow.

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