Windhoek — The Electoral Commission of Namibia has already started granting local, regional and international organisations observer status in this month's Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The observers play a crucial role in ensuring that elections are transparent, free and fair, while they also seek to ensure voters, political parties and candidates accept the elections outcome. ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro confirmed that invitations to observe the local polls were extended, while various organisations have applied for accreditation and were already approved.
These include the European Union (EU) delegation in Namibia, the Electoral Commissions Forum of Sadc countries, the Hanns Seidel Foundation as well as the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
He added the commission has also received pre-election missions from other organisations, including Sadc, Expert Imaging and Sound Association (Eisa) and the Commonwealth secretariat, among others. In terms of Section 55 of the Electoral Act, the commission may out of its own motion invite organisations, institutions and persons to observe any election or referendum.
Hence, Mujoro said, the observer accreditation process commenced in August and entails organisations to apply for accreditation with the commission. Once an organisation has been approved, the commission accredits the applicant. "In other words, the observer database of 2014 was used as a baseline. In addition, the commission has also extended a general invitation to any other interested organisations through our local media platforms, for example our social media pages and website," Mujoro explained.
According to him, the amount of observers to be deployed will be determined by the numbers that each observer mission will deploy. Mujoro said there is no restriction to the areas where the teams are deployed and it is up to the observer missions themselves.
In addition, he said access is granted to all polling stations across the country.
However, it is the prerogative of the presiding officer to manage the number of observers allowed at a time inside a polling station.
Each observers mission has their own criteria that they focus on, but basically, it entails observing the right of citizens to participate freely in an election process, the organisation of the election process, electoral management and access to information amongst others.