THE Oshakati East by-election, slated for this Saturday, hangs in the balance after the All People's Party (APP) lodged an urgent application against the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) at the Electoral Tribunal for the Oshakati district.
The court hearing is set for Friday at Oshakati.
The APP wants the court to halt the upcoming by-elections from taking place, or to allow the submission of the nomination of candidates to start afresh.
APP's Tangy Mike Tshilongo told The Namibian that the party also wants the returning officer, Ephraim Iiyambo, to be removed.
"The returning officer has violated the ECN Act because he allowed the public sitting to continue beyond the stipulated time period. The people were still sitting when I got there around 11h25, when the public sitting was supposed to have ended by that time. According to the act, a public sitting is supposed to start at 09h00 and end at exactly 11h00, but that was not the case at Ompundja," stated Tshilongo.
The deadline for the registration of candidates was on Monday at 11h00.
Tshilongo said he only managed to show up at around 11h25 when Iiyambo was busy presenting the candidates to the public.
"I know I was late, but I still found the public sitting in session, so they could've at least allowed me to go ahead with submitting our candidate's nomination letter. That's unfair of them to treat us like that," added Tshilongo.
Iiyambo, on his part, said Tshilongo is doing things deliberately, and he now wants to shift the blame onto the ECN.
"They came late, and I did not even touch their documents. I called him (Tshilongo) several times to remind him of the deadline, but he still arrived late. He let his party down, really. He should not shift the blame to the ECN or other people; it's his own fault," said Iiyambo.
Electoral chief Theo Mujoro said the elections will go ahead as planned without any hindrances.
"We stand by the decision of our returning officer to exclude the APP candidate from the nomination process. Our returning officer went out of his way to remind the party concerned to make their submission within the prescribed time. The APP failed to honour a legal obligation, and were excluded as a result. It would be inconceivable for the court to rule in favour of the APP in this matter. The by-election will go ahead as planned," said Mujoro.
"We are confident that the Oshakati East constituency by-election will take place on 24 August 2019, as scheduled. Our logistical preparations are well on course, and we are ready to deploy teams to the various polling stations on Friday, 23 August, to be ready for duty the next day," he added.
There are about 18 411 registered voters in the Oshakati East constituency.
The vacancy was necessitated by the death of Lotto Kuushomwa, who passed away on 27 May.
Kuushomwa has been the councillor for the Oshakati East constituency since 7 December 2004, and served as chairperson of the Oshana Regional Council between 2010 and 2015.
A total of six candidates, including an independent candidate, will be contesting in this by-election.