… as experts scratch their heads over NPF’s blast from the past
By Staff Reporter
Chairperson for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) Notemba Tjipueja this week took pains to stress that there was no secret room reserved for Swapo only at their premises.
Tjipueja expressed her frustration with the media saying journalists have to report factual information after she was asked about an exclusive room that was open for the ruling party alone during election time.
“Let me assure the nation, there is no secret room. Please let us not misinform the public.
I think as the media we have a responsibility to give accurate stories, to give correct information. There is no secret room at the Electoral Commission of Namibia. There is no secret room where Swapo is allowed only to enter.
This is misinformation and I think as responsible media we should not misinform the Namibian public. We have indicated that the central election result centre which you are calling the verification centre, all party representatives and the independent candidate will be allowed, their representatives, to be there.
We have indicated that, and I have indicated that there will be a day set aside where we are going to take them through the process of how results will be transmitted. And I think we should start acting maturely as political parties. We have indicated this to them at the political liaison forum. They are well aware of it and a day will come, they will be taken through the process,” said Tjipueja.
This week, the advocate was given a shock-therapy, weeks before the actual election day by an array of political parties which accused ECN for dictatorial tendencies by refusing them a chance to read through a code of conduct before appending their signatures to it.
Tjipueja witnessed the parties walk out on her before she held an ad-hoc press conference where she accused them of reducing the event into a campaign platform.
Tjipueja has had to deal with political parties resisting her insistence on sticking to Article 47 of the constitution which makes it possible for public office bearers running for the National Assembly positions to resign first.
With opposition parties having refused to sign the code and others quizzing her on whether ECN “thought we are stupid” indications are that she is headed for a tough ride until Election Day.
A blast from the past
Meanwhile, the National Patriotic Front, which has been inactive since the early to the mid-90s when it took part in the 1989 elections, has broken back onto the political scene after decades.
The party has been endorsed to contest in the upcoming elections leaving many experts scratching heads as to whether there was any fairness to their being allowed.
Speaking at an ECN event, Institute for Public Policy Research Director, Graham Hopwood wanted to know why the party had been given an automatic greenlight when more active parties like the Landless People’s Movement were made to get 3 500 votes first.
ECN has so far said there was nothing in the law which stopped the party from contesting.
The party was registered under the 1992 Act where a provision exists in the current Act that states that all parties registered under the 1992 Act will be regarded as being registered.
“So, it’s only new parties like LPM that will have the requirement of the 3 500 registered voters over a certain period. This party was not deregistered by the commission. ECN was confronted with the question as to whether there was a need for an amendment; that’s for a deregistration of dormant parties. So, they are still a registered political party,” said the commission.
The commission also added that there is a provision in the Act that certain procedures have to be followed to deregister a party, allowing the party to hang on the list of political parties.
“It is sufficient what is in the act,” said an ECN official.
But experts have voiced that when it comes to registration and vying for elections, all parties should have a level playing field.
The NPF was birthed in March 1989 at the influence of Moses Katjioungua as an alliance of the Action National Settlement, South West African National Union and Caprivi African National Union political parties.
Katjioungua was elected to the Constituent Assembly of Namibia, the 1st National Assembly of Namibia and the 2nd National Assembly of Namibia.
The early party leaders included ANS leader Eben van Zijl and CANU leader Siseho Simasiku.