RUNDU – The opposition DTA fears many eligible Namibian voters may not register for the national elections slated for November later this year, because the process is ‘laborious and extremely slow’.
Some 1.1 million people were registered for the previous National Assembly and Presidential elections, but the party’s Secretary General Vincent Kanyetu said the current hiccups hampering the registration process could see the number of voters, especially for the regional council and local authority elections decreasing because people do not have time to queue for hours in order to register. Kanyetu spoke to New Era just after the general registration of voters kicked off last week. “We have received numerous complaints from our observers stationed across the country at voter registration stations that the process is extremely slow as it is plagued by technical difficulties,” said Kanyetu. Kanyetu said the slow pace at which people are being registered is because registration officials did not receive adequate training for this important task. He told this reporter that at some registration points it took more than 30 minutes to register one person.
The DTA claims complaints relating to voter registration for the local and regional government elections, where the requirement is proof of residence for a period of no less than one year, has also been received. “Many individuals have been refused registration for the local and regional government elections as they lack such documentation,” said Kanyetu in a statement this week. “The DTA wishes to express dismay and dissatisfaction with the voter registration process currently underway nationwide for the upcoming Presidential, National, Regional and Local Government elections,” the statement read. According to him, if the current voter registration process is any sort of prelude to the upcoming elections, “one becomes hard pressed to express a sense of optimism as to how that process will be conducted.”
The party accused the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) of failing to conduct adequate voter education in the run up to the commencement of the registration process. “Furthermore, it appears that those conducting the actual registration of voters have not been sufficiently trained to operate the voter registration equipment effectively,” the party said. “Since its inception the ECN has failed in its objective to conduct an efficient and smooth voter registration process. In fact the ECN is notorious for its significant failures and shortcomings over Namibia’s short history.” The outspoken Kanyetu said the DTA has from the outset called for the privatization of such services. “Despite this, the Swapo-led government has persisted with the state-funded ECN, and in the process proving that it is not capable of executing such a task effectively.” He said however that despite the shortcomings in the current process the DTA will contest in all four elections with the aim of providing a credible and realistic political alternative to the Swapo Party. The DTA is presently embroiled a well publicized acrimonious war of words between its former president Katuutire Kaura and his successor McHenry Venaani.
By Mathias Haufiku