PDM six face unceremonious parliament exit

14 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK

In a landmark ruling yesterday, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) members Charmaine Tjirare and Hidipo Hamata won their High Court case in which they challenged their removal from their party’s parliamentary list which was gazetted just before last year’s general election.

After the election, in which PDM won 16 seats, the party removed six members from the gazetted list and replaced them with six new faces that were never gazetted as is required by law.

Hamata and Tjirare were represented by lawyer Norman Tjombe.

Those that must be removed from the National Assembly as per yesterday’s court judgement are Esmeralda !Aebes, Johannes Martin, Kazeongere Tjeundo, Godfrey Mwilima, Timotheus Shihumbu and Pieter Mostert.

‘Political judgment’

Reacting to the ruling, the official political opposition yesterday rejected the High Court outcome, saying it was nothing but a political judgment aimed at “demystifying” the ongoing Fishrot scandal.

In October, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) issued a directive that all politicians employed by the public service, as well as in the national, regional and local councils, must resign from their jobs upon being nominated for the National Assembly.

At the time, the PDM threatened to drag the ECN to court, claiming at least 40 of its candidates would be affected.

The party eventually submitted its adjusted list to the commission.

Not to blame

At a press briefing, party leader McHenry Venaani yesterday said the ECN had given them permission to amend their parliamentary list and the party cannot be punished for this.

“If you are remedying a situation, you cannot punish me for authority I got from another person. So, we are going to argue a number of issues here. Why is the remedy being put on the PDM? We did not start fighting about the list after the elections. The rule used by the ECN was never a rule applied to political parties,” said Venaani.

He added that they are accountable to the people that voted for PDM and not the court and when the list was amended by the ECN, they informed the nation.

According to him the constitutionality must be taken to the Supreme Court so that the party can be vindicated.

“I am very confident that the Supreme Court can exonerate us. We are not against our own members that want to be in parliament. We cannot be saying this party can be represented by Ovaherero and Basters only? We are people of honour and integrity,” he said.

“This decision derived was a political decision. We have read the preliminary conditions of the judgment of the court and it is our view that the court has its own way of dealing with opponents,” he said.

The ECN’s chief electoral officer, Theo Mujoro, had not responded to questions by the time of going to press.

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