Windhoek-McHenry Venaani, the president of the newly rebranded Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), says political parties may not use their former name DTA or its logo, as this will likely confuse voters.
This was in response to a question as to whether they still have trademark rights over their political party’s former name, DTA, or it could be used by other political parties.
“The electoral law of the country says you may not call your party a name which another party has or had – that has the potential of confusing voters in the event that the party changes its name. The same rule may apply in court, that there is a potential to confuse voters,” Venaani said.
Venaani was responding to New Era on Monday, mere days after the party changed its political name over the weekend after 40 years. He said the rebranding to PDM has been positively received throughout the country.
Venaani was in the north welcoming new members in Oshikoto and Tsumeb and said they were also receiving new members in Walvis Bay, Kavango in the south and central regions.
“People wanted the name changed and we did that,” he remarked.
Director of Elections at the Electoral Commission of Namibia Paul Isaak also confirmed that political parties may not use other parties’ names, as it will confuse voters.
Isaak explained that after a party rebrands or changes its name, they submit their application to ECN and it is gazetted. And during the gazetting process political parties have 30 days to make objections on that basis.
“If there are no objections then the name goes through. So, I assume if such a thing happened there will be objections,” said Isaak, who added that the same would apply if a political party wanted to use the name DTA.
Isaak said the political parties have to ensure the details of existing political parties registered with the ECN are not used, such as the same abbreviations or colour schemes.
He added that PDM had submitted their name change on Monday and the gazetting process must still take place. Further, Venaani said with the rebranding the mission of the party has changed.
“Because we are a popular democracy, we are looking at people-centred problems with people-centred solutions. So, our focus has changed to areas of people’s bread and butter [issues].
“Our focus will be to address the shanty towns that are problematic in our country; we will address the sanitation and we will go down to real issues that confront the people.”
With the rebranding Venaani said they consulted international researchers and political scientists. He told New Era the rebranding was a three-year process since he over took. He was, however, cagey when pressed on how much the rebranding cost his party and did not reveal the name of the person or firm that helped them to rebrand.
“That I will not disclose to you. The party cost-benefit analysis will not be made public in this point in time, such as who did what. But we consulted expertise globally and in the country,” was all he would say.
Venaani explained why they decided to keep the old logo and the colour. He said these are international symbols and there were two key internationally recognised symbols in Namibian politics.
“The power sign that Swapo has and the peace sign the DTA has; these are international symbols, even when you take your own photo and you are not a DTA member, you would always make a peace sign. It’s an international trademark.”
Venaani said the rebranded PDM is the second largest political party in the county and in politics you can’t change everything.
“You don’t do that in politics, you do evolution transformation, not the revolutionary transformation because you have membership and followers. You can’t discard your old followers in hope of getting new members. You keep both,” said the official opposition leader.
“We must vote for ideology, not whether you like the party’s green colour, but what important is when your party goes into government – what it is going to deliver?”