Dienda warns delimitation commission could influence election results

Elma Dienda

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Elma Dienda has emphasised the importance of the independence of the Boundaries Delimitation and Demarcation Commission.

She says its decisions could influence political parties’ performance in elections. Dienda has raised questions on the appointment of five members to serve in the commission, which were submitted to the parliament for approval this month.

“The decisions of the commission about constituency boundaries could influence how well a political party performs in an election.

“The independence of this important commission is therefore critical, and the appointment of its members should be done diligently to ensure impartiality and integrity,” she said in parliament on Tuesday.

This would be the fourth delimitation commission that has been appointed and approved by the parliament since Namibia’s independence. Members of the commission are appointed after every 10 years by the president in terms of the Constitution, with the parliament’s approval. The commission is responsible for determining the size of regional councils and locations, and the size of various constituencies in Namibia.

The country currently has 14 regions and 121 constituencies.

The members whose names weresubmitted to parliament are Petrus Unenge, who as chairperson, Prisca Anyolo, an expert in law and traditional affairs governance, Gerhardt Gurirab, a historian and curator, Penias Topnaar, a teacher and pastor, and Phanuel Kaapama, a political scientist and lecturer.

Dienda said it is important to appoint impartial, competent, honest and knowledgeable individuals to the commission.

The National Assembly is currently considering the submitted members’ curricula vitae (CVs).

Dienda said: “An act of parliament may further regulate any matter not expressly provided for by this Constitution, including the method of arriving at a decision.

“My question therefore is: In the absence of such an act, what was the procedure used by the Office of the President to shortlist the current candidates?

“I further ask: Were these candidates hand-picked, and were interviews held? The method of arriving at the current shortlist must be explained in full to this august house.”

She questioned the candidates’ lack of competence, saying only Anyolo, who is the only women candidate on the list, has indicated her capabilities on her CV.

“This makes me very worried about whether these members would deliver on their mandated duties. I therefore wish to ask on what basis are we actually appointing these candidates if we overlook their competencies? How did we arrive at [monthly] selecting male candidates?” Dienda asked.

She also questioned the lack of operational guidelines that govern the commission’s activities, saying the commission has in the past been accused of fixing boundaries in a discriminatory manner, giving certain political parties an advantage. “While I acknowledge the important role of the Boundaries Delimitation and Demarcation Commission, I call for a deeper review of the competencies and general capabilities of the suggested candidates,” Dienda said.


Minister of works and transport and deputy prime minister John Mutorwa yesterday said the proposed candidates are people with integrity, character and qualifications.

“Therefore, I do not have anything against the names really,” he said.

Supporting Mutorwa, deputy minister of information and communication technology Modestus Amutse said he believes the candidates are capable of fulfilling the functions of the commission.

“I think it is best we approve the recommendation as received by this house to appoint all these members,” he said.

Higher education, training deputy minister and innovation, Natalia Goagoses said she has carefully considered the candidates’ credentials, demographic locations and experience, adding she fully supports their appointment.

“I have no doubt for this house to positively consider the appointment of these members. They are some of the best balanced, trusted members I have seen in a long time, consisting of Namibians, so that when they consult, Namibians will associate with them,” she said.

Prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is expected to provide a response to issues raised by members on the appointment of the five candidates today.

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