Kawana motivates need for Vice-President in NA

WINDHOEK: There is a need for the creation of a Vice-President position in Namibia in order for the country to have continuity at all times at the level of Head of State and Head of Government.

This is one of the reasons for such a need which were discussed during the Electoral Law Reform Project (ELRP) consultations with political parties, Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana said when he tabled the Namibian Constitution Third Amendment Bill of 2014 in Parliament on Thursday.

He said the constitutional amendments emanate from the ELRP which was conducted by the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) since 30 August 2011 with all registered political parties.

Kawana said this amendment would allow for an incumbent Vice-President to take over for a period of 90 days in keeping with the constitutional scheme provided under Article 29, Sub-Article (4).

“Secondly, whilst it is true that the inclusion of a Vice-President in the hierarchy of governance makes the executive top-heavy, it is nonetheless a necessary price to pay for inclusivity and nation building,” he stated.

The Presidential Affairs Minister noted that Namibia is still building a nation, thus positions like the Vice-President would allow for those leading the country, particularly the President, to be able to appoint persons from the diverse spectrum of people in the country so as to foster nation building.

“Of course, no one is suggesting that persons be simply appointed to positions based on Bantustan considerations. That is not the objective. However, it would be foolhardy of anyone to look to our country without the lenses of the historical background from which we have fought ourselves to freedom,” Kawana said while motivating the Bill.

The Presidential Affairs Minister and Attorney General further said he thinks it is this reality which propelled members from the opposition to concur with the consulting team that there is still a need to heal the nation in terms of racial and tribal divisions.

Addressing the National Assembly (NA), Kawana further motivated that the Vice-President would not be a running mate with the President, stating that Namibia learned from the examples of other countries on the continent where this concept has brought about constitutional problems.

“For our system, clearly, it would assist if the President appoints this Vice-President, can replace the Vice-President, but only from the members of the NA, who then resign their seat in the NA once they are appointed to the Office of Vice-President,” he pointed out.

Kawana explained that the proposal is to retain the Prime Minister as the leader of government business in Parliament and the coordinator of the work of the Cabinet as head of administration.

The President remains Head of State and Head of Government, he indicated, adding that the President and the Vice-President will not attend Parliament, except as provided for under the Namibian Constitution, once per annum.

The Vice-President’s functions will be to deputise, advise and assist the President in the execution of his or her functions, which are out of Parliament.

“The Prime Minister will be a member of the NA. We believe and hope that this separation of functions will assist the smooth administration of Government,” Kawana noted.

Meanwhile, five members from the opposition objected to the tabling of the Bill, amongst them Swanu of Namibia president Usutuaije Maamberua.

The party had proposed on Tuesday this week via a media statement that Parliament should only discuss changes to the Electoral Reform Bill and not amendments to the country’s Constitution.

“If however, the amendments are bulldozed through Parliament and the dictatorship of the majority is used, Swanu would have no choice but to vote against them,” the party’s statement read.

Swanu Secretary-General (SG) Dr Tangeni Iijambo was quoted in the statement as saying his party is primarily concerned that there is not enough time for broader consultations considering the broad and far-reaching proposals.