PDM MPs face the chop after court decision

30 October 2020 | Politics

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK



Six Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) members are facing an exit from the National Assembly after the Supreme Court closed a matter in which the party sought to appeal a High Court decision ordering the party to replace the affected MPs.

The Supreme Court, which wrote to PDM lawyers Theunissen, Louw & Partners on 22 October to say the matter was closed, is the last court of resort and its decision is often final.

PDM and the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) appealed the High Court ruling that six MPs of the official opposition were irregularly in parliament and must thus be removed and replaced with six new faces. Those whose presence was declared unconstitutional, null and void are Esme !Aebes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Tjeundo, Geoffrey Mwilima, Sadney Ndumbah and Pieter Mostert. They are to be replaced by Frans Bertolini, Charmaine Tjirare, Yvette Araes, Maximiliant Katjimune, Raymond Reginald Diergaardt and Mike Rapuika Venaani, father of party president McHenry Venaani.



Party list

The PDM's ordeal started when the party supplied the ECN with the names of the latter group ahead of last year's parliamentary election, which the electoral body then gazetted.





After the election, in which the PDM scored an impressive 16 seats, the party reneged on this list and supplied ECN with a new list– a decision that led to a court challenge by aggrieved members.

The High Court then ruled in July that the party's replacement of the members originally gazetted was unconstitutional and ordered that the original candidates must join parliament and replace the second group.

The PDM and ECN indicated they would appeal to the Supreme Court and, on this basis, the affected MPs remained in the National Assembly in the meantime.

But a Supreme Court document seen by Namibian Sun this week indicates that both appellants, ECN and PDM, failed to file records of their appeal within the set deadline.

“In light of your failure to comply with the rules of the Supreme Court, your appeal is deemed to have been withdrawn. We will proceed to closer to close our file herein,” the court told PDM lawyers on October 22.

Norman Tjombe, lawyer for the group that challenged their exclusion from parliament, this week wrote to the National Assembly, asking the legislative house to swear in his clients as MPs.

“The process of swearing in members only takes place once the National Assembly received the gazetted names from ECN,” National Assembly spokesperson David Nahogandja told Namibian Sun yesterday.

The Government Attorney, Matti Asino, representing the ECN in the matter, said: “It's true the records were not filed on time as per the rules of the Supreme Court. We will try to convince the court to allow us to file those records.”

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