ALL parties in the election challenge must respect the verdict of the Supreme Court and the nation must now move on.
This was the message of independent Presidential Candidate, Dr Panduleni Itula, Attorney-General Albert Kawana and the Electoral Commission (ECN) Chairperson Advocate Notemba Tjipueja shortly after the Supreme Court pronounced itself on the election challenge.
Standing outside the courtroom, Itula publicly congratulated and acknowledged President Hage Geingob as the Head of State shortly after he was denied an opportunity by Chief Justice Peter Shivute an opportunity to once again run against the incumbent president in a national election.
Itula further urged his followers to act within the principles of the rule of law and to respect President Geingob.
“I should take this opportunity to congratulate Comrade Hage Geingob for the victory. He is now the legitimate president of this republic and we should respect him and I caution everyone who has been following the phenomenon for change to act within the principles of the rule of law and to respect our Head of State. This was not about Dr. Itula. This was about the masses of the people who live in undignified environments in informal settlements. This was about the masses of our students who have no schools, no chairs to sit on and no books. This was about ensuring that what we fought for is truly being realised by the people of Namibia, thirty years thereafter,” Dr. Itula said.
Kawana on his part welcomed the judgement and applauded the independence of the judiciary, adding that those with grievances have no reason to resort to unconstitutional and illegal activities.
“They must follow the letter and the spirit of the law and they will get justice where justice is due to them. I am happy with the judgement; it is a balanced judgment in my view which I hope all Namibians will accept. This is a judgement handed down by the highest court of our land,” Kawana said.
Chief Justice Shivute ordered that as from 20 March, no elections will commence without the utilisation of verifiable paper trails on the EVMs.
It was also found that the determination by the Minister that the provisions of section 97 of the Act were brought into force with the exception of sections 97(3) and (4) on 17 October 2014. This, the Chief Justice ruled, was in conflict with the Constitution and is invalid.
The respondents have since been ordered to pay two-thirds of the applicants’ legal fees.
“As to the allegations of irregularities, the court found that there was no evidence of irregularities or of the impact the alleged irregularities have had on the Presidential election. In selectively promulgating parts of section 97 of the Act which was adopted by the Legislature and signed by the President. That section provides for electronic voting subject to certain conditions contained in section 97(3) and (4). These two subsections were excluded by the Minister when the Act was brought into operation. They require a verifiable paper trail when use is made of EVMs,” Chief Justice Shivute ruled.
The order of invalidity of the Minister’s determination should be effective upon the end of the current term of office of those elected in 2014 on 21 March 2020 and after those elected in the November 2019 elections are sworn in, Justice Shivute said.
The current and on-going by-elections will also not be affected by the order.
Tjipueja also welcomed the judgement, saying “We are happy and satisfied with the outcome. We have presented a sound case; the applicants presented their case and the court has made a judgment and considered both arguments. Using their discretion, they have come up with a judgment which we have all heard. We accept it and we uphold the rule of law in Namibia.”