MEMBERS of parliament today held a Special Session to debate the appointment of three new members of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), with opposition parties claiming that the newly appointed members are affiliated to the ruling Swapo Party.
Giving an overview on the appointments, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Loide Kasingo, stated that a total 35 applications were received for the positions, with the selection committee shortlisted 15 applicants based on their qualifications and experience.
Public interviews were conducted on 10 May 2021, after which President Hage Geingob nominated from the shortlisted candidates Elsie Nghikembua to be appointed as the new Chairperson of the ECN.
Emmerentia Leonard and Joram Rukambe were elected as new electoral commissioners.
Debating the subject, Vipuakuje Muharukua of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) argued that although everyone has the right to vote, some of the newly elected members have been actively involved in Swapo politics.
“If a person has portrayed himself to be affiliated to Swapo, how is this person the right person to serve the commission?” Muharukua asked.
Ignatius Shixwameni of the All People’s Party (APP) reverberated the same sentiments, stating that the ECN should be a truly independent body and that its commissioners should not support political parties.
Mike Kavekotora of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) also rejected the motion, suggesting instead that the selected members be scrutinised and interrogated publically as they serve an important democratic institution.
He further noted that president Geingob has failed to address the rising frequency of electoral court cases.
Minister of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security, Albert Kawana, however, defended the integrity of the ECN, stating that Namibia has been rated as one of the top SADC countries when it comes to governance.
He further noted that the ranking is proof of the credibility, integrity and transparency of government institutions.
Members of the opposition also questioned whether all the right procedures were followed in accordance with the electoral act in the recruitment process.
The deputy, Peter Katjavivi, however, assured members of the August House that everything was done within the law.
The session was postponed until further notice due to interjections from the opposition parties during the Special Session.