Voter registration officials must not be chancers

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Bernadus Swartbooi during the official opening of the Electoral Commission registration training for the //Karas Region in Keetmanshoop on Monday.

KEETMANSHOOP – Governor of //Karas Region, Bernadus Swartbooi, has warned newly recruited Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) registration officials that no misconduct will be tolerated during the registration period.

The registration period will last from from the 15 January 2014 until the 2nd of March 2014.

He minced no words when he addressed the registration team on Monday emphasising Namibia’s democracy and ability to conduct a free and fair election is at stake with the foundation being the registration process.

“You are part of history being made and in nature of our democracy if voter information is not accurate political parties will dispute voters on the voters’ roll and pursue legal disputes. And they will be asking questions if it is not done properly . . .You must understand your job is one of utmost responsibility, it is of utmost seriousness, of utmost discipline, utmost dedication and your work is of utmost integrity,” stressed the regional governor. Swartbooi warned the trainees that no “shortcuts” would be tolerated and that no “imaginary” voter will be added on the voters roll.

“The voters that you will put on the roll will be real people, not imaginary! Your work is not to be done like research by answering questionnaires and filling in things from your own head when you are too tired to go to the people’s homes. No! You will go to see the real people and knock on their doors,” he said, adding his rebuke is not a joke and stemmed from previous misconduct by ECN officials.

“It is not joke. If the work you do here lacks a sense of responsibility then the total credibility of Namibia to conduct free and fair elections is at stake. This is not child;s play. Those on the voters roll are the only ones entitled to vote. If mistakes are made here then the voter process will be compromised and if the voter process is compromised then our democracy is compromised,” he fumed while pointing to incidences in which government vehicles were used for joy rides and sexual excursions.

Swartbooi warned officials to use the government cars exclusively to execute their duties and not to abuse the vehicles.

“You did not apply to the ECN to compromise the integrity, validity of elections,” he charged making it clear that individuals who make themselves guilty of any form of misconduct would be fired on the spot.

He also took a swipe at civil servants who are part of the ECN team saying lax behaviour will not be tolerated and that government officials will be expected to have an extraordinarily high energy level than what they normally have in their government jobs.

“This is not a government job. We will not tolerate people sleeping on the job or others who say they have worked hard for government all year and deserve to stay at home. No! You have applied voluntarily for this job, so if you are a boss in the government and not here do not behave like a boss here,” he said.

He also said ECN officials should put aside their political alliances and be impartial.

“If you are a Swapo, DPN, RDP, CoD or any other politicial party outside and you get here then it completely falls away because when you are here then you are working on behalf of the State which means on behalf of everyone in the country,” he said.

He cautioned officials not to discriminate against people and not turn people away based on appearances and to understand that even a drunk person has the right to vote.

He urged the born-frees to influence their peers into voting, while slamming members aged 30 and more for having a “loyalty and civic responsibility crisis”.

“What is sad here is that we have people who were eligible to vote but they did not. You must live up to your civic responsibility and use the right that was fought for so hard and vote. If you go out there and you have never voted in your life, what moral authority do you have to teach others about civic responsibility,” he asked?

Swartbooi concluded by saying no politics and tribalism would be tolerated from ECN officials whose exclusive duty it is to chronicle eligible voters for next year’s elections.

By Jemima Beukes

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