More Protection for President-Elect

A PROPOSED Bill that would give future Presidents-elect more power and protection is seen as the latest move to provide Prime Minister Hage Geingob with a sense of security and a smooth transition to State House.

If made into law, the Presidential Transitions Bill 2014 will allow the President-elect to be sworn in before 21 March. It also provides more privileges, among them security and intelligence briefings, which only the President enjoys currently.

Geingob is the Swapo party vice-president and the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s elections. Going by Swapo’s past record he is expected to win the election and succeed Hifikepunye Pohamba as State President.

The proposed Bill makes provision for an Office of the President-elect to be created with all facilities – a house, vehicles and security details. A committee will also be established to ensure a smooth transition for the President-elect to President takes place.

The committee will outline and facilitate the handing over process by the outgoing President to his successor, organise and ensure the security of the President-elect, organise and provide necessary facilities and personnel required by the President-elect, and co-ordinate the briefings of the President-elect by relevant public office bearers.

The committee will also facilitate communication between the outgoing President and the President-elect, prepare the programme, take overall charge and organise the swearing-in ceremony and carry out any other function and duty necessary for the performance of its functions and perform any other function assigned to it under any other law.

The committee, to be chaired by the Secretary to Cabinet with the Attorney-General as the deputy, will also have the power to determine its own procedures. It will consist of the Director-General of the Namibia Intelligence Services (Namibia Central Intelligence Services), Inspector General of the Police and permanent secretaries in the ministries of finance, defence, foreign affiars and Office of the President.

It is not clear how different the said committee will be from the Cabinet Committee on safety and security.

The President-elect will also nominate three people to serve on the committee that will be convened as soon as the Electoral Commission of Namibia announces the election results. It will be tasked to ensure that the President-elect is accorded adequate security.

The proposed bill will also compel the Inspector General of the Police to ensure the provision of adequate security to the President-elect throughout the period leading to the swearing-in ceremony.

The committee will also be responsible for making sure that the President-elect receives adequate security briefings from national security organs, a privilege only accorded to the President.

The existence of the bill has raised questions as to the motive behind such a law and why Geingob would feel uneasy about his safety and security. The Namibian reported last year that President Pohamba’s decision to promote Geingob to Prime Minister, was also done to accord Geingob the relevant security as Pohamba’s heir apparent.

Concerns of the President-elect’s security also surfaced during Pohamba’s time as President-elect in 2005. Pohamba’s security was beefed up but security sources said that he was not entitled to intelligence briefings until he became President.

Although The Namibian has seen a copy of the draft bill, both the Minister of Presidential Affairs Albert Kawana, who is also the Attorney General, and the Law Reform and Development Commission chairman, Sackey Shanghala, said they do not know anything about it.

Kawana said: “I am only hearing that for the first time, I think your information is not correct.” He added that according to procedure, “if the bill existed” its motivation will be made to parliament.

Shanghala said he has “no idea” of the existence of such a bill. Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma, as the minister responsible for drafting laws, could not be reached for comment yesterday. He said he was attending meetings all day.

A government source told The Namibian that the bill is not even at the directorate of legal drafting in the Ministry of Justice yet and very few in government know of its existence.

A copy of the draft seen by The Namibian indicates that it is at its very early stages of conception.

Source : The Namibian