The extended date for the Return of Writs will mean more money from the public purse will be forked out by the government to ensure the 2022 National General Election process is completed in full.
Chair of the Inter-Departmental Election Committee and Secretary for the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council, Ivan Pomaleu, says the Governor General has extended the date of Return of Writs to 05th August 2022.
Secretary Pomaleu said this is because counting and declarations have been slow. By the original date of Return of Writs, it was still impractical for the Electoral Commission to return most of the writs.
“In a democratic process, we expect disruptions by candidates and their supporters, and there have been disputes and petitions.
“Those are best handled by the Electoral Commission who has the powers to consider and or direct for counting to proceed after disputes are registered.
“However, a lot of disruptions last week were instigated by election officials, counting officials on administrative matters such as allowances,” Secretary Pomaleu said.
He said be aware that there is adequate provisioning for allowances by the Electoral Commission, and these allocations have been released to the Electoral Commission.
“Any delays in receiving the allowances at operational level is administrative in nature, and election officials must ensure that all administrative requirements by the Electoral Commission are completed so that allowances can be paid.
“Apart from constitutional issues, the extension of the date of the Return of Writs will also cost the taxpayers more money to adequately complete the election process.
“Therefore, it is necessary for me to direct that any public servants causing delays in the counting must be charged for interfering in an election.
“Please note that section 178(1)(h) of the Organic Law on Elections says that inciting or encouraging, whether publicly or otherwise, disturbances to interfere in an election is an offence,” Secretary Pomaleu said.
He said if someone is found guilty of that offence, then there is a penalty not exceeding K500 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding one month or both a fine and imprisonment. These provisions of the Organic Law on Elections must be implemented.
“Other offences under the Public Service Management Act are to be explored. The Electoral Commission has the primary mandate to deliver all elections, but all the State agencies including its employees are to stand in solidarity to deliver the outcome of the 2022 National General Elections by 05 August 2022. Parliament will convene possibly on 09 August 2022.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all our citizens are represented in 11th Parliament when it convenes,” Secretary Pomaleu said.