The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) yesterday unveiled its Covid-19 draft mitigation strategy, which outlines specific plans that would be implemented to lessen the impact of the global coronavirus crisis ahead of this year’s regional council and local authority elections.
The electoral body’s chairperson, Notemba Tjipueja, unveiled the pandemic mitigation strategy during a consultative workshop with Civil Society Organisations (CSO) in Windhoek.
Namibians are heading to the polls in November to elect new regional council and local authority leaders despite fears of the global coronavirus crisis that is testing the world’s democracies in myriad ways.
“We want to make it categorically clear that the ECN is under no illusion that conducting elections under the present circumstances will be an onerous task but we believe that this country can hold successful elections if everyone complies with the relevant regulations and requisite health precaution,” she said. Tjipueja acknowledged that the elections would take place against the backdrop of Covid-19 and, thus, the electoral body has established a working relationship with the health ministry.
“We have provided the health ministry with the draft mitigation strategy document in order for the ministry to provide health risk assessment in respect of all electoral processes and the transmission risks they may have,” she said. She said, most importantly the electoral body strategy will be aligned to the national guidelines as may be announced by the relevant authorities under the state of emergency regulations.
Under the draft ECN Covid-19 mitigation strategy, ECN said it will use online recruitment platforms to receive and review staff application.
For in-person interviews, the ECN said it has identified facilities with sufficient space to allow for required physical distance, provide hand sanitisers and ensure the use of face masks, especially for pregnant women, elderly person and persons with pre-existing conditions.
On election day, the electoral body said even if no voters or election officials experience any symptoms of the virus, all precautions would be taken as if any person in the polling station could be infected.
“The placement of the tables and sets for election officials will respect the required physical distance, and presiding officers will control the flow of voters at each polling process to avoid person-to-person contact and allow time for sanitisation of any equipment,” ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro said.
Additionally, Mujoro said, the ECN will consider eliminating any step that might lead to unnecessary touching of objects.
“Multiple-person seating, especially benches and side-by-side chairs, will be removed, and polling places will have few unnecessary objects and surfaces as possible,” he added.
“The wearing of a face mask will be mandatory for all persons coming to register as voters and to all voters, including all electoral officials.”
2020-07-09 10:05:58 30 days ago