Kawana Tables Proposals On Constitutional Changes Today

ATTORNEY General and Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana yesterday gave notice that he will table and motivate the Constitutional Amendment Bill today.

Kawana, who made the announcement at an unusually full parliamentary chamber, walked out immediately after giving notice of the motion.

The list of the proposed changes to the Constitution in the notice given by Kawana include those reported by the media over the past few weeks, although one of the most controversial proposals – the 5% threshold for parties to qualify for seats in the National Assembly- has been removed.

The rest of the proposals such as increasing the number of presidential appointments in the National Assembly to eight from six and to give them voting rights the creation of the vice presidency post and making the post of the deputy prime minister optional are on the notice.

The proposals also seek to make provision for Namibia Central Intelligence Service in the Constitution and provide for the President to appoint the head of intelligence agency who will also become a part of the Security Commission.

Other changes are: limiting the National Council’s review powers in relation to bills, providing for the levying of taxes and the national budget. The size of the National Council quorum requirements will also be considered for change.

Although Kawana’s motion talks about providing regional governors more powers, it appears that the early provision to hand over the regional councils’ executive powers to the governors has been done away with.

New provisions in Kawana’s motion are the changes to the Anti-Corruption Commission that will be headed by a director general and deputy director general.

There will be more than one deputy reserve bank governor, while a parliamentary service commission will be created.

All parliamentary staff will fall under the new commission, and not under the Public Service Commission anymore.

There is also a proposal to make the judiciary a self-accounting organ of the State with changes to be made to the compositions of the Judicial Service Commission and the Magistrates Commission.

The Namibian understands the Constitutional Amendment Bill was only delivered to the Ministry of Justice legal drafters on Friday and was not ready by yesterday morning.

Sources close to the process also said after Kawana’s motivation of the Bill today, parliament is expected to adjourn for one week to allow parliamentarians to study it before the debate on it starts.

The Namibian also understands that the proposed changes to the Constitution were not well received by the ruling party’s parliamentary caucus group.

Without the support of all Swapo parliamentarians, the Bill, which is being used as a prerequisite for passing the Electoral Act into law, could stall the process, which should be completed well before the elections in November.

The Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing and Rural Development, Charles Namoloh, also gave notice that on 12 August he will table amendments to the Electoral Act.

Nangof, the non-governmental organisations forum, issued a media statement yesterday calling for government to put the process on hold to allow for full consultation with the public.

Nangof feels that there is no justification for rushing such changes to the country’s laws.

Source : The Namibian