November 2, 2007

Municipal elections postponed

Government intends to delay the next municipal elections by approximately 18 months and shift them to 2010 to coincide with regional council elections. The Minister of Local and Regional Government, John Pandeni, tabled an amendment to the existing Local Authorities Act, which stipulates that "a general election of local authority councils shall be held no later than December 31 2010."
The last municipal elections were in May 2004, but later the same year the national, presidential and regional council elections followed, causing some voter fatigue. The term of town councillors is five years and that of regional councillors six years. Originally, the next municipal elections were due in May 2009 and elections of regional councils in November the same year. "It is established that this arrangement has become undesirable as it is not cost effective," Minister Pandeni said. "It involves a lot of duplications in terms of logistics and resources that could have been avoided if they were held over the same period. The present arrangement is also considered to be one of the root causes of voter apathy."
His Ministry and the Electoral Commission had thus recommended to Government to hold both the local and regional elections in November 2010, he added. "The regional councils and local authorities are supporting the recommendation. The local councillors even have the benefit of staying in office for a longer period." It is expected that the present six-year term of regional councillors will be shortened to five years in 2010 for those councillors to be elected in that year. Government made an earlier attempt to reduce the term of regional councillors, but the National Council rejected the bill and it was withdrawn. The next national and presidential elections are expected to take place at the end of 2009. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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