Local, regional council elections shifted to 2010By: BRIGITTE WEIDLICH
LOCAL authority and regional council elections will be held next year instead of this year, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) announced yesterday.
The term of office of councillors will be extended until then.
The ECN also announced that electronic voting machines will not be used in the national and presidential elections scheduled for November.
Briefing the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, ECN Chairman Victor Tonchi said the local and regional elections had been shifted otherwise voters would have to cast ballots four times this year.
“We expect the Minister of Local and Regional Government, Jerry Ekandjo, will soon table a motion in Parliament to extend the office terms for local and regional councillors,” Tonchi told the Committee.
“National and presidential elections will take place in November this year, probably in the first or second week of that month, but President Hifikepunye Pohamba is still to determine the exact date,” he added. Supplementary registration will be conducted countrywide in September.
Tonchi and ECN Director Moses Uandjarakana briefed the Committee on election preparations and amendments to the existing Electoral Act of 1992.
According to Uandjarakana, the Speaker of Parliament, Theo-Ben Gurirab, will launch the election calendar in Windhoek on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tonchi assured Committee members that the electronic voting machines Namibia is about to buy from India will not be used this year.
Members of Parliament wanted to know more about printing of ballot papers and about the proposed amendment to the Electoral Act, which proposes that a presidential candidate can be declared elected unopposed if there is no other candidate.
Kaveri Kavari (CoD) asked whether this amendment would be democratic.
McHenry Venaani (DTA) asked whether a Swapo company, NamPrint, will again print the ballot papers this year.
Tonchi answered that the printing tender would be advertised as usual.
“Any competent companies can bid and we see which companies conform with the set criteria and the best bidder wins. If we would exclude that company, they might sue the ECN for being unfair,” the ECN Chairman said.
Arnold Tjihuiko (Nudo) asked Tonchi why the Ministry of Local and Regional Government has been sitting so long – nearly a year – on the Electoral Act amendments instead of tabling them in Parliament.
“We hope the Amendment Bill is tabled and passed before the November elections,” Tonchi responded.
The ECN has advertised the venues for voter registration in various print media, except The Namibian.