By: Justicia Shipena
The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is planning to procure additional tablet-based mobile registration kits during the year.
When motivating the 2023/24 budget for ECN, the Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi said this is in addition to the requisite accessories and latest software versions and the development of kits for election-related software applications.
“During the 2023/2024 financial year, the Commission is planning to procure additional tablet-based mobile voter registration kits to complement the existing voter registration technologies,” he said.
Katjavivi said the commission is required to recruit, train and deploy general registration of voters officials estimated to be 7,850.
In this regard, he said training is planned to take place in established clusters across the country for a maximum of six days for all registration officials.
This he said is to ensure the quality and effectiveness of training before these officials are appointed and deployed for a maximum period of 90 days of which around 42 days will be earmarked for the actual conduct of the general registration of voters.
He noted that the next general registration of voters is scheduled to take place from January to March 2024, adding that ECN will require about 1,500 vehicles during the scheduled general registration of voters.
“Securing of vehicles is very crucial towards conducting any electoral process and the general registration of voters is thus no exception,”he said.
The Speaker said ECN will have no choice but to hire a pool of vehicles from various government garages as well as from the members of the public to compensate for any possible shortfall.
He also noted that the ECN will engage the treasury soon to discuss its budgetary requirements for capital projects.
Katjavivi emphasised that ECN also reviewed the technical requirements of the current biometrics voter registration system in preparation for the general registration of voters, for which the procurement of requisite hardware and software applications is at an advanced stage.
He stated that the initial additional funding requested for the 2023/2024 financial year was N$330,120,000 which was reduced due to other equally competing national priorities to N$270,110,000.
“This includes the initial budget indicative ceiling of N$152,820,000. That means that there is a shortfall of about N$60, 000, 000 which might be reduced based on the availability of vehicles from the government garage pool, ministries and agencies,” he said.
Thus, a total amount of N$421,930,000 is requested for consideration and approval, Katjavivi said.
Out of that total, N$59 million has been allocated for personnel expenditure and N$362 million for non-personnel expenditure including the preparation for national elections.
Namibia is expected to head to the polls next year for Presidential and National Assembly elections.
“The Commission notes with appreciation the current budget allocation, however, it is worth noting that the N$60,000,000 will remain a shortfall that will have a negative impact on the preparation and conduct of the general registration of voters.”
On by-elections, Katjavivi told the August House that the ECN conducted four by-elections, but the budget allocation received was only sufficient for one by-election.
For this programme an amount of N$32 million has been earmarked for non-personnel expenditure including voter and civic education campaigns as well as procurement of related goods and other services.
In addition, Katjavivi said 38 million will be distributed among ECN’s services, office of the Chief Electoral Officer, finance, human resources management, auxiliary services, and information communication technology.
“Thus, I now present to this August House the request of the amount of N$421,930,000 for the Electoral Commission of Namibia for the 2023/2024 financial year,” Katjavivi requested.
Katjavivi said during the 2022/2023 financial year, ECN was allocated N$97,132,000 for its operational budget, adding that the budget execution rate was at 98.8%.
The funds were used for administration of elections, voter and civic education and information dissemination and policy coordination and support services.
“Out of the total appropriated amount, N$44,576,000 was allocated for personnel expenditure and N$52,556,000 for non-personnel expenditure,” he said.