The provisional voters register for this year’s Presidential and National Assembly elections will be available for inspection at designated venues countrywide and abroad from the 2nd to the 6th of September 2019, the Electoral Commission of Namibia has announced.
ECN Chief Electoral and Referenda Officer, Theo Mujoro told the Windhoek Observer on Thursday that the provisional voters register will be made available for eligible registered voters and political parties to inspect and object against the inclusion of the name of any person(s) on the national register that is not entitled to be registered as a voter.
The election management body recently completed a supplementary voters’ registration exercise which saw a total of 256,564 eligible Namibians register in and outside the country. Out of this number, 734 registrations were recorded at Namibian diplomatic missions across the world.
The ECN is set to produce and print the final voters register during the period starting from the 7th to the 25th of October.
Responding to questions from the Windhoek Observer, Mujoro also said the commission is concerned about the low voter turnout that has been experienced in recent elections.
Last weekend’s Oshakati East by-election was marred by a low voter turnout with only 19 percent of registered voters casting their votes. Out of the 18,385 registered voters only 3,413 voters cast their votes.
SWAPO’s Abner Shikongo got 2,935 of the votes, followed by the Independent Candidate Fiina Kuutondokwa with 234.
Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Theofelus Kamati got 185 votes, followed by Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters’ candidate with 32, Congress of Democrats’ Elias Iiyambo 17 and SWANU’s Rebekka Kambayi with a paltry 10 votes.
During the by-election for Ondangwa Urban in June, only 23 percent of the total registered voters cast their votes. Of the 16,000 registered voters, only 3792 voters had cast their votes.
Mujoro said the electoral body has noted with concern that voter turnout has continued to show downward trends over the last few years especially during the Regional Council and Local Authority elections.
“To this end, the ECN is making concerted efforts to disseminate voter and civic education through targeted messaging,” Mujoro said, adding that citizen involvement in the political process is essential for democracy to be viable, vibrant and meaningful.
He said the ECN can only do so much in educating and informing the electorate on electoral projects, while urging political parties and candidates to play their role in convincing voters to turn out in large numbers and participating in the electoral process.
“Relevant players should also investigate how socio-economic factors may be impacting on voter turnout,” he added.
The elections chief further said voter and civic education is an important element in the fostering of democracy.
He said citizens will not be able to exercise their right to vote unless they fully understand the purpose of the electoral process and the importance of each vote and the impact that it could have on a community’s political, social and economic environment.
“The ECN considers voter and civic education a task that calls for multi-sectoral collaboration. Thus we continuously implore the public and private sector, non-governmental organizations, Civil society Organisations (CSOs) and Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) to work with the ECN as a team in order to ensure that our citizenry is well informed about the electoral processes..,” Mujoro said.
Commenting on concerns by opposition parties such as the Land Peoples Movement that last weekend’s by-election in Oshakati East was not credible after a woman voted twice, Mujoro said “the isolated” incident was a regrettable human error.
He said the ECN will continue to provide appropriate training to ballot issuers to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.
“It is important to reiterate that the human error by the electoral official has nothing to do with the legitimacy and robustness of the Electronic Machines (EVMs). Requisite administrative action is being taken in relation to this incident.”
He also said comments by an election official Ephraim Iiyambo, who was quote as having said that “Whoever she voted for twice is their luck”, were unfortunate and regrettable.
“Such an utterance is unfortunate and regrettable if indeed the Returning Officer was quoted correctly making such a statement. We are looking into a number of aspects concerning the conduct of the Oshakati by-election and appropriate action will be taken where necessary.”