RUNDU – The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) says it sees nothing wrong with the use of sworn statements when it comes to the general registration of voters as there may be many Namibians without national documents required to obtain a voter’s card and thus register for the voter’s register. LRDC’s chairperson Sacky Shanghala, in an exclusive interview with New Era recently, said the use of sworn statements to register voters is crucial to ensuring that those with no national documents are not excluded from voting.
“I really do not see the negative implications of using sworn statements to register our people, those who see something wrong with it should come out and tell us the defects of sworn statements so that we can address them. Yet credible and workable proposals are not entirely forthcoming,” Shanghala said.
Opposition political parties and non-governmental organizations have in the past raised concerns over sworn statements and assistance given to people who do not have national documents by claiming that the system could have peculiar effects on the outcome of national elections.
He said thousands of Namibians still do not have national documents, meaning they will not be eligible to vote during next year’s National Assembly and presidential elections should government succumb to pressure from critics advocating for the abolishment of sworn statements for people with no national documents, during the general registration of voters.
“If we take away sworn statements then it means we are denying many people from exercising their right to vote, meaning the fate of many will be determined by a few,” said Shanghala.
“In the case of local authority elections, where residents in the informal suburbs do not have municipal accounts, if my neighbour can confirm that I have been residing next to him for years, why should I be denied the right to vote?” Shanghala said.
Shanghala also took a swipe at political parties who often claim that people are being shipped into the country or constituencies in order to vote when they are not originally from those areas. “To date no one was ever prosecuted for doing such things. So until the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration does a stellar job by providing national documents to each and every Namibian, we ought to consider making use of sworn statements. Anyway, we just recommend it. It is up to parliament,” opined Shanghala.
He further said doing away with sworn statements would propel a low voter turnout during next year’s election. “We talk of democracy, yet we want to deny people who have no national documents the right to vote or those who cannot prove they live in a given local authority by way of municipal records,” he said.
The Electoral Commission of Namibia on Tuesday announced that the next general registration of voters will be conducted from January 15 to March 02, 2014.
By Mathias Haufiku