Electoral Commission to Get Own HQ

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

The new Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa has congratulated the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for their decision to construct their national headquarters during this financial year.

Contributing to the debate on Vote 3 of the Budget in the National Assembly, Mutorwa said the ECN is currently housed at the NDC Building but it is not safe premises for the ECN to conduct its business.

Mutorwa, who was housed in the same building when he was at the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture said the NDC building is prone to break-ins and in the last three years there were three of them.

Motivating the money allocated to the ECN, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Doreen Sioka revealed that the ECN is facing a problem of severe office and storage space, which makes it difficult to achieve operational efficiency and maxim utilization of human capital.

She said N$40 million was allocated for the construction of the ECN headquarters.

Sioka also revealed that over N$12 million had been allocated for the purchase of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and Cabinet had in principle approved the purchase and introduction of EVMs in the Namibian electoral system.

The ECN is planning to purchase the EVMs in two phases with the first phase beginning in 2008/09 and phase two in the following financial year.

It is envisaged that the introduction and use of EVMs will effectively speed up the voting process and determination of results.

Sioka added that the introduction of the EVMs into the Namibian electoral system would be preceded by a meticulous and thorough preparation phase, which will include nationwide consultations with all stakeholders including political parties.

She added that one of the most effective methods to introduce and teach the electorate about EVMs is through the conduct of mock elections, which will provide an opportunity for practical use of the EVMs.

The ECN has allocated N$200 000 for mock elections that would serve as a trial run for the EVMs before their full implementation.

More than N$11 million has been allocated for voter education. Sioka noted that the purpose of conducting voter education and sharing of voter information is to increase the citizen’s level of understanding of electoral processes and eradicate voter apathy.

In total, an amount of N$78 191 000 is being requested for consideration and approval by Parliament.

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