Plans to Expand Parliament Afoot – to Accommodate 50-50

THE possibility of increasing the size of the parliament has appeased Swapo politicians opposed to the 5050 zebra style representation.

It is not clear how many seats would be added to both the National Assembly and the National Council if the plan is implemented.

Chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission Sackey Shanghala confirmed yesterday that such a proposal has been there since 2012 as part of consultations done countrywide on several laws of the country.

“I cannot say the document was discussed at the meeting because I am not part of the central committee but I presented the document to the prime minister and the attorney general,” Shanghala said.

Senior party sources also confirmed that the governing party proposed that the number of National Assembly and National Council seats, currently totalling 72 and 26 respectively, be increased.

Although no details or timelines were discussed at the party’s central committee meeting over the weekend, the plan is to increase the number of seats to make sure that some politicians who fear losing out will not be left behind.

However, Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba told The Namibian yesterday that it is not up to the party to change the composition of the legislative houses and that they will work based on the current numbers.

5050 BATTLE

The Namibian understands that a section of the central committee did not support the 5050 move, which will mark the end of male domination in the party’s structures.

Swapo sources said there was a heated debate on how to implement the party list for those who will go to parliament, and that President Hifikepunye Pohamba had to oppose any resistance to the implementation of the 5050 gender representation.

The sources said there was opposition towards the 5050 principle across the board with many, especially men, scared of being left out. Some allegedly questioned how the new system will make sure that not only elite women get a chance but that rural women and the youth are accommodated as well.

According to the sources, some members were consoled by the fact that there will be discussion on amending the country’s Constitution to increase the number of seats in parliament. A national preparatory committee was established to organise the party’s electoral college expected to be the hottest in the party’s history. For the first time, no one is really secured of a position in the party except the Vice President, the secretary general and his deputy. Even the dominant Tanga group is said to be panicking.

Sources also said although it has not been brought out in the open yet, there is a feeling that Pohamba should hand over the right to pick the presidential 10 to his deputy Hage Geingob, so that the latter will have a wider choice when choosing his Cabinet next year.

Another bone of contention was whether there will be two lists at the electoral college.

“The main thing is 5050 where men tried to dilly-dally but the President put his foot down. There will be two lists at the electoral college,” said a source.

Pohamba reiterated his support for the 5050 formula at the opening of the meeting on Friday, saying the party should make sure that changes to the governing party’s constitution on gender representation are fully implemented.

“For instance, it must be implemented in the newly re-organised or established structure of the party, such as the newly proclaimed Kavango West and East regions and also in all cases where vacant positions in party organs and structures need to be filled,” Pohamba said.

The party president also said the upcoming electoral college should comprise delegates based on the 5050 principle.

Mbumba briefed the media on the outcome of the meeting on Saturday where he said the party considered the revised regulations for electing representatives at the legislative and government level that makes provision for 5050 gender representation.

“The document was adopted to be implemented for the 2014 Swapo party national assembly list,” he said.

At the electoral college, parliamentary candidates for the National Assembly will be elected. Mbumba confirmed that the meeting also endorsed the composition of electoral college delegates due to the 5050 rules.

Previously, around 190 people decided upon the list of 72 Swapo Party members they wanted to submit as their representatives in the National Assembly. However, that number will go up because of the increase by one delegate each for party wings such as the youth league, the union federation and elders council who previously sent five delegates.

Some of the delegates who will attend the revised electoral college are the 83 members of the central committee (which includes the top four), six delegates from each of the 14 regions (84, previously 65 people).

Others are six delegates from the Swapo Party Elders’ Council, ten delegates from the Swapo Party Women’s Council, six delegates from the Swapo Party Youth League and six delegates from the National Union of Namibian Workers.

The delegates will vote for 59 candidates. These will be added to the 10 that President Pohamba must appoint. Depending on how the ranking is done, each of the 59 elected candidates could be pushed down by 13 places because of the automatic selections.

Source : The Namibian