By Kuvee Kangueehi
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) says it takes serious exception to allegations made that the Swapo Party members were selected to work as registration officials for persons who supposedly are supporters of other political parties.
The Director of the ECN, Philemon Kanime, said the allegations are receiving attention at the highest level and the ECN will investigate those claims and get to the bottom of the issue as a matter of urgency.
Kanime said the ECN has received a total of 214 applications from the Oshikoto Regional Council from which 62 officials were selected and the ECN is not aware of any other applicants or names that were intentionally excluded from the screening process.
Kanime made the statement following an allegation by the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) that there is one-sided recruitment of election registration officials.
The RDP claims that 62 officials, all belonging to the Swapo Party, have been recruited by the office of the Omuthiya Regional Councillor and the recruitment was unfair and unprocedural.
In a letter written to the chairperson of the Board of Commissioners, the RDP claims that more than 40 out of the 62 selected people are from outside Omuthiya Constituency.
In the letter signed by interim secretary general Jesaya Nyamu, the RDP further claims that the selected people have been chosen at the obvious expense of the Omuthiya Constituency and this is irregular.
“This irregularity and unprocedural step was possible because the recruitment process was left entirely in the hands of the Omuthiya Regional Councillor, a Swapo member, instead of it being handled by the office of the ECN in Omuthiya.”
Nyamu further stated that it is unacceptable that an interested party in the matter should be given an undue advantage to recruit only its members as elections registration officials.
He added that apart from the fact that members of one party have been availed for valuable temporary jobs to the exclusion of other participating parties, an impression was created that one party is more equal than others.
In the letter Nyamu claims that the people who have been systematically excluded from the recruitment of registration officials are experienced former Omuthiya participants in the electoral process.
The RDP secretary for information, Kauku Hengari, also issued a press release addressing the same issue.
In the media release, Hengari said the same irregularities, which are being experienced at Omuthiya have also emerged at Eenhana with a Swapo Party Regional Councillor again having exclusive rights over the recruitment process of registration officials.
Hengari noted that the regulations require officials to be recruited from the constituency of elections but in the case of Eenhana officials are being recruited from neighbouring constituencies.
The secretary for information further noted that more ominous is the fact that ECN officials such as Ezekiel Shigwedha, who is known for his anti-RDP stance, is collaborating with the Swapo Regional Councillor.
Hengari said if these irregularities are not addressed as a matter of urgency, the elections would be open to rigging.
“The RDP therefore calls upon the ECN to ensure that a free, fair and democratic process of recruitment is in place, where all parties are afforded equal opportunities.”