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Yet another week has passed and GECOM is still to set the date for the conduct of the interviews with the applicants for the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer. It is now one year and five months since GECOM advertised, however approximately one year ago the vacancy was readvertised on the pretext that the original applicants did not meet the requirements.
The readvertisement attracted one internal candidate. The shortlist, notably, includes three candidates from among the original applicants, who were originally deemed not to have met the requirements for the job, in addition to the internal applicant whose application was facilitated by virtue of the contrived readvertisement.
The recruitment process has been slothful, in addition to being delayed by the passing of a commissioner, who was involved in the original shortlisting. The deceased commissioner has since been replaced by Commissioner Rohee who has taken six months to come up with a short list of two persons and has further delayed the process for two weeks, to date, due to his unavailability.
The preparations for Local Government Elections, which should have been held in November or December of last year, 2022, and are now scheduled for June 12, 2023 has been affected by a number of snafus, missteps and misadventures. At the very inception the responsible Minister sought to usurp the function of GECOM by unlawfully gazetting the boundaries of new and reconfigured constituencies.
The Government appointed Commissioners, the Chair and the CEO sought to endorse that illegality. The effort to reverse that misadventure took approximately two months and occasioned a significant delay in the preparations for the elections. The reclamation, and execution, of that function by GECOM was also contentious, since it is the view of some that the Commission did not follow due process in the demarcation of the boundaries and merely sought to facilitate the Minister`s earlier intervention, which constitutes gerrymandering of the constituency boundaries.
GECOM also failed to conduct the Claims and Objections process in the required manner, which after much haggling and an approach to the Court by the APNU saw the misstep being halted and the correction process instituted. That too has led to a substantial delay in the preparation and has also become the source of contention, since in many instances the wrong procedures were embraced in determining whether a person is “ordinarily registered” in a particular constituency and consequentially entitled or not entitled to vote in the particular constituency.
This matter hinges on the peculiarity of local government elections and GECOM`s insistence that the Chief Justice`s decision in Ram vs. GECOM is applicable. While the Chief Justice`s decision does not permit the removal of a name from the National Register of Registrants and consequentially the voters list for General and Regional Elections, in the case of local government elections, a name may be taken off of the voters list, but retained on the National Register of registrants, if the person is nor ordinarily resident in the constituency in keeping with section 10 of the Local Authority (Elections) Act.
Local Government Elections are now scheduled for June 12 while GECOM remains on the path of snafus, missteps and misadventure.