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The Electoral Act of 1992 as amended, under Section 4(1) provides for the establishment of the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) as the exclusive authority to direct, supervise and control in a fair and impartial manner, the conduct of the elections in the country.
The Commission consists of five Commissioners appointed by the State President from a list of eight names submitted by a Selection and Interview Committee and approved by the National Assembly. The amendment of 1998 was particularly important since it took significant steps to secure the independence of the ECN from the Executive, for the appointment of the ECN is no longer the simple prerogative of the President. Moreover, the Director of Elections was firmly subordinated to the ECN.
The criteria for requirements for membership of the Commission are determined by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Privileges. Thereafter, public advertisements are placed in the government Gazette and in newspapers. A Selection Committee is set-up to select, interview and recommend eight persons for approval by the National Assembly. It is from this approved list of eight persons that the President must appoint the five Commissioners. Once appointed, the five choose one of them as chairperson of the Commission. The Commissioners are appointed for a five-year term and can only be removed for misconduct.
The Commission’s chief executive officer is the Director of Elections who is appointed by the President from a list of not less than two names submitted to him by the Commission. The process of short-listing candidates for the office of Director of Elections is a public and open one. A vacancy for the post of Director of Elections is first advertised by the Secretary to the National Assembly. Thereafter the Commission convenes to select five applicants for interview. After interview, the Commission then recommends not less two names to the President for appointment.
The permanent staff-members of the Secretariat of the Commission are appointed by the Commission in line with the public service laws and regulations. However, it is the Commission that determines the job description and other requirements for every post.
The duties and functions of the Commission are spelt out in the Act as:
The budgetary allocation to the Commission is done through the Ministry of Finance like all other government institutions in accordance with the State Finance Act and Treasury Regulations. The budget is submitted independently to Parliament for debate and approval.