The Supreme Court Registrar this week poured cold water on attempts by independent presidential hopeful, Panduleni Itula, to challenge its controversial ruling of 5 February, that declared the outcome of the presidential election valid, while conceding that failure to use a paper trail in those elections was unconstitutional.
According to a letter addressed to Itula’s lawyers, the law firm Angula & Co. Inc, on Wednesday this week, the Supreme Court will not entertain the motion filed by Itula and others to challenge the ruling.
The apex court rejected a challenge by Itula, joined by the leaders of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), Republican Party (RP), Economic Freedom Fighters of Namibia (EFF), as well as the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) to set aside the outcome of the disputed presidential poll held in November 2019 and to order a re-run. “We decline to set aside the elections and to order a re-run,” Chief Justice Peter Shivute ruled at the time.
However, the applicants scored a partial victory when the court ruled that the Minister of Urban and Rural Development did not have the powers to enforce the Electoral Act selectively in 2014, especially the application of section 97 without subsections (3) and (4).
Sub-section (3) provides for the use of voting machines subject to the simultaneous utilisation of a verifiable paper trail, while subsection (4) further provides that in the event that the results of the voting machines and the results of the paper trail are at variance, the paper trail results should prevail.
In his latest attempt, Itula bases his renewed challenge on the grounds that, although the court found that there was a breach of the constitution, it nevertheless failed to grant a satisfactory remedy to the aggrieved parties. According to him they are being penalised for a failure of the government to adhere to the law.
As far as the aggrieved parties are concerned an unlawful process, cannot result in a lawful outcome. The Angula Co. Inc. dismissed the letter from the registrar of the Supreme Court, saying there is no indication that the judges empanelled to hear the matter ever met “least of all in open court” and neither was their client accorded any hearing.
“Nor, equally significantly, does your letter purport to have been addressed to us at the behest of the Chief Justice. This, too, is inexplicable: the notice and papers filed by the parties were expressly not directed to the Chief Justice. Thus the letter is not from the Chief Justice,” read the letter from Itula’s law firm.
“In the entirely inexplicable absence of any claim in your letter to any authorisation either by the Court or any claim in your letter to legal authority vested in you by statute or the Rules, our client regrets that it can only be inferred that your letter is written without legal authority and is ineffective.”
The Registrar of the Supreme Court Joseph Libana yesterday shrugged the latest development away, saying: “Judges don’t write letters or court orders for that matter. I can tell you that the decision was made by the judges. I write on behalf of the judges and if they are satisfied, I forward the letters to whomever it may concern.”
“In this case I forwarded the letter to the applicants and also to Ms Shickerling, who is the Chief Registrar of the High Court,” Libana told the Windhoek Observer yesterday.
The country’s two socialist parties also launched a renewed High Court challenge over the results of both the Presidential and National Assembly elections held in November last year.
A notice of motion filed in the High Court on 10 January 2020 indicates that the two parties will seek an order declaring the outcome of the general elections of November 2019 null and void. The case has since been referred to the Elections Tribunal of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).
The two parties, joined by the Republican Party (RP) and a faction of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), are also demanding a retraction of the declaration of victory by the incumbent, Dr Hage Geingob, as well as an order that will specifically restrain justices Peter Shivute and Petrus Damaseb from swearing the incumbent in as the duly elected president of Namibia.
The official swearing in ceremony is slated for 21 March.