THE no-nonsense stance taken by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and subsequent laying off of some of its staff, including the director Philemon Kanime, on “special vacation leave” pending an investigation into mishandling of electoral matters should send the right signal to all – that our democracy and the integrity of its institutions cannot be compromised on the altar of political expediency.
The electoral body has a huge task on its hands, that of ensuring that electoral matters are conducted in a manner that is above board and that the elections themselves are as clean as they possibly can be. There should be no room for spoilers in the election body.
Elections whether presidential, national, regional or local are the cornerstone of our democracy and freedom. The process of elections may not be tempered with or manipulated in order to achieve different results because that would be tantamount to denying the Namibian people their freedom.
That is why the country expects the election office to be occupied by good cops and not bad ones. These officials cannot and should not become political proxies.
Naturally, citizens hold election officials in high regard. They expect these officials to efficiently run election affairs with a great sense of fairness and professionalism and would not settle for any mediocrity and cheating.
Previous election directors like Professor Gerhard Totemeyer and Joram Rukambe have set high standards for this office. Many Namibians came to develop trust and faith in the way the office handled election matters.
Unfortunately, this trust has begun to wan because of serious shortcomings and silly mistakes by the election office. One of the memorable mishaps is a finding of discarded ballot papers in a riverbed near Okahandja in 2004.
Whatever the explanation then, it was apparent that the finding threatened to undermine the integrity of that office – hence the acceptability of election results. There was also the controversy around the registration of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP).
Our reporter Kuvee Kangueehi was denied information on the new party by the director while enquiring about its registration despite the party having been registered days earlier. Lists of names of the members of the party left the elections office without anybody having to account of them.
The last straw is the Omuthiya debacle. The office has failed dismally to run elections for a village whose voting population numbers only 1??????’??