By Kelvin Chiringa
Distrustful and Disgruntled members of the divided Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) have written to Bishop Ernst //Gamxamub proposing the intervention of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) to assist in their controversial elections.
The church is divided on the upcoming elections for the office of the bishop with one faction refusing to accept the candidature of deputy bishop Paul Kisting whose age they claim is above the constitutionally stipulated limit.
The elections are scheduled for this weekend on 12 May, while the disgruntled faction seeks a postponement to a later date until clarity has been provided on contentious issues.
Apart from Kisting, Dean Abraham //Kheibeb and pastor Sageus /Keib are also contenders for the plebiscite.
Off the back of a technical court defeat in the Windhoek High Court in which they were challenging what they alleged to be a violation of the church’s highest law, the faction has now called on the bishop to ensure a transparent, free and fair election.
They have warned the bishop that the elections which he has given his blessing are marred by negativity and they are convinced ECN can restore sanity to the internal electoral process.
“The ELCRN executive can approach the Electoral Commission of Namibia; they are always willing to help. There are serious reservations around the counting of the ballot papers at parish levels versus at the Church Synod meeting,” they advised the bishop.
ECN electoral officer Theo Mujoro could not be reached on his mobile phone for a comment.
The faction further expressed that they are not aware of the numbers on the national voters roll and as such have expressed fear that it may be difficult to endorse the final vote outcome.
“Did we as ELCRN invite observers from sister churches and the Council of Churches in Namibia, regional and international sister churches to be observers at the elections? It will give integrity and impartiality of the Executive and Electoral Commission of ELCRN,” they reasoned.
The faction has told the bishop that the church is asking him and executive committee members to follow their constitution and by-laws by the book.
What also concerns the faction is that the church has 420 000 members and only 9 100 have participated in the nomination process, thereby making up a measly 2.4% of the total members.
According to them, as one of the major churches in Namibia, it would not reflect well if less than 10% of the members vote for the bishop and deputy bishop.
“Technically, if less than 10% members participate in the elections, should (the church) nullify the elections and start afresh?” they queried.
Speaking to this publication, one of the faction’s members, Albertus !Naruseb said the bishop did not respond to their letter.
However, in an official statement issued a few weeks ago, the bishop said, “the Church has structures through which complaints can be lodged, but I notice that we want to jump stages, which cannot be entertained.”
He said preparation for the elections commenced a year ago according to the requirements of the ELCRN Constitution, policies and guidelines, when the church Council appointed the Nomination and Electoral Commission during July 2018, to facilitate the bishop’s candidate.