Namibia: Code of conduct

Updated June 2006

In 1994 the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) drew up a draft of an electoral code of conduct to be endorsed and signed by political parties and circulated it amongst party representative; after incorporating their proposals a final "Code of Conduct for Political Parties" ("the Code") was adopted by the ECN (Tötemeyer 1996, 40, 41; Electoral Commission of Namibia 1994). In terms of Namibian electoral law the ECN is entitled to issue guidelines for the conduct of elections by political parties that are legally enforceable (Electoral Act 1992, 43(2)). The Code does not, however, have such legal status but many of its prohibitions are also violations of electoral or ordinary law and are enforceable as such (Tötemeyer 1996, 41; Lodge 1999, 30).

By way of preamble the Code notes:

An essential part of free and fair elections is freedom of political campaigning. Everyone has the right to express his or her political convictions and ideas, without threat or fear of intimidation. Freedom of political campaigning, however, also carries responsibilities which include the freedom of others to express their own and independent opinion.

The Code requires that political parties, associations, organisations and independent candidates abjure all forms of intimidation and respect the right of all to freedom of access to voters. It closes with measures for its implementation.

Intimidation and free access

Intimidation is impermissible in any form and to ensure that is eliminated political parties, associations, organisations and independent candidates agree that:

  • All weapon, including traditional weapons, are banned from all public political events.
  • The holding of public political events in physical proximity to one another at the same day and time be avoided.
  • Public address systems, which may be a public nuisance, whether fixed or mobile, be banned from use between 21:00 and 07:00.
  • Verbal language or printed literature which incites violence against others is prohibited.
  • Free attendance by people at opponents' rallies not be obstructed.
  • Campaign materials of opponents not be vandalised.
  • Party leaders strive to ensure reasonable freedom of access by all to potential voters outside working hours, including those at farms and on state owned properties.

Implementation

To implement the Code the parties agree that:

  • Communication structures between parties at national, regional and local levels be established and liaison personnel on call to deal with difficulties be appointed.
  • Weekly meeting between the Director of Elections and party representatives to discuss matters related to the election and campaigning be instituted, with ad hoc emergency meetings when required.
  • Compliance with the Code be enforced at rallies by designated members of the party concerned.
  • The Directorate of Elections and the police be informed of all allegations of intimidation and illegal behaviour, at the place where they are alleged to have occurred.
  • Party leaders direct their members and supporters to adhere to the Code of Conduct and enforce observance.
  • The ECN and party leaders propagate the Code nationally by every means possible.
  • Campaign activities respect the environment.

References

ELECTORAL ACT (NO 24) OF 1992 as amended in 1994, 1998 and 1999.

ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF NAMIBIA 1994, "Code of Conduct for Political Parties", [www] http://www.ecn.gov.na/Code%20of%20Conduct%20for%20Parties.htm [opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

LODGE, T 1999, Handbook of Namibian Electoral Laws and Regulations 1999, EISA.

TÖTEMEYER, GKH, 1996, "The legal framework and organisational requirements" IN Tötemeyer, GKH, Weiland H & Wehmhorner A, (eds), Elections in Namibia, Friedrich-Edert-Stiftung/Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers, 40-42, 222-223.

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