By Clemence Tashaya
SOME political parties who have nominated their candidates for elections have started to panic as few weeks left to go for polls.
Katima Alliance Development Association (KADA) that will field its candidates in the Local Authority Elections only, has expressed concerns on how the electorate is going to vote for them amid irregularities on the voter’s cards, which are not properly written.
Namibia will be holding its fourth Regional and Local Authority elections on the 26th and 27 November this year.KADA is one of the civic groups based in Katima Mulilo town, which will contest for Local Authority for the second time.
Caprivi Vision established that, many voters in Katima Mulilo would be turned away because of their voter’s cards, which do not allow them to vote in the Local Authority as issued out, by the Electoral Commission of Namibia [ ECN ] during registration held in September 2009 and this year respectively. The voter’s cards indicate that they can only vote for the Presidential, National Assembly and Regional Council elections but not Local Authority elections.
Some of the voters residing within the jurisdictions of Katima Mulilo Town Council will not be able to vote for their Councillors and can only exercise their democratic right to vote in the Regional elections only by voting for the Councillors of their choice in Katima Urban as specified by ECN registration officials on the voter’s cards. The cards are empty with no inscription at the back as required by law.
Mr. Benson Kaapala the Chairperson of KADA alleged to this paper that, “These are loopholes we have discovered with these voter’s card issued when people were registering. In Windhoek, we are informed that the cards are written and with correct instructions and inscriptions on both sides including on the Local Authority section. But for the voters in Katima Mulilo, the Local Authority section is not inscribed. So why are we having different dimensions on one legitimate card which is supposed to be uniform in the whole country. Apart from that, the ECN was supposed to embark on voter’s education as the custodians of democracy in Namibia,” Mr. Kaapala said.
This civic group is concerned that as per Registration Act 42, sub section 1, for associations, their main interest is to run the affairs of the local government and that they cannot afford to loose even one of their voters within the local authority jurisdictions.
“As candidates for KADA, there is no way we can loose out voters because of these loopholes”. He further explained.
For these alleged loopholes, it is suspected that many voters will be turned away when they go for voting. The electorate will be deprived their right to vote and participate in democracy.
However, ECN’s spokesperson, Ms. Merline Katjitundu confirmed to Caprivi Vision that those who were side lined did not follow all the instructions as required and specified hence no inscription at the back yellow side.
“Those people whose cards are not written at the back did not register in their rightful constituencies. Rather, they registered in the urban area yet they were supposed to register in their correct constituencies for the local authority areas. These are people not living within a local authority accordingly, in order for one to vote in that area, one must have lived in the area for 12 months. Remember, we are not yet in the elections yet and these can be rectified once these loopholes are identified. This is not November as yet,” she explained.
“Those people could be registered in Katima Mulilo Urban to vote for the Regional Councils elections but not registered for the Local Authority Area. Otherwise, they did not fulfill the criteria of registration. Those people with cards not written on the yellow side are the people who are not living in the Local Authority Area,” Katjitundu said
With regards to voter’s education campaign, the ECN’s Public Relations officer said they have conducted all voters’ education campaigns by using the media such as TV, Radio and the print media.
“We have also used other means of communicating with the elders using the local languages so that they know the importance of voting,” she further explained.