Pohamba Declares No Going Back On 5050

JUST a day after some parliamentarians attacked the proposed 5050 law on gender representation last week, President Hifikepunye Pohamba is said to have told the Swapo Central Committee on Friday that there is no going back on the implementation of the policy.

Party sources said a stern-faced Pohamba declared during the meeting in Windhoek that there was no going back on implementation of the quota system because it is now a policy incorporated into the party’s constitution.

The President’s declaration crushed any attempts to discuss the issue of the 5050 gender representation policy in all party structures including that of the National Assembly elections.

On Thursday, some parliamentarians scoffed at the proposed law to compel political and government bodies to have 5050 gender representation, with DTA’s Philemon Moongo saying it is a plot to allow women to dominate men.

Moongo said leadership positions should be landed through competition.

“Prove yourself that you are capable, talented and can win the competition. That is the principle in a democracy. Competition is enough and it’s addressed in the Constitution, what else do you want?” he asked, adding that the current way of doing things should be sufficient.

“Everyone is equal before the law, whether you are a woman or a man. Now you want women to dominate us. If you have a lack of understanding of the law, we don’t have time to teach you, so go to school,” the former DTA vice president said.

Attorney General Albert Kawana, who proposed the law, during the debate on a report on women in power, said the policy was “no longer a question on whether

5050 must come – 5050 is here to stay”.

“I wholeheartedly support that a law must be drafted to require that all political parties make sure that the principle is applied. It should have come already yesterday,” Kawana said.

His comments came after several MPs, including Moongo, complained that a quota will discriminate against men and according to them is unconstitutional.

“I heard some of our MPs saying that 5050 violates the Constitution,” he said, citing Article 10 of the Namibian constitution, which guarantees equality and freedom from discrimination.

Kawana explained that Article 23 makes an exception when it comes to affirmative action, particularly with women who were culturally and historically discriminated.

“So Article 10 does not apply when there is a need to empower women,” Kawana said, adding that Namibia has signed several international conventions, which call for equal treatment and emancipation of women, which are now entrenched in the constitution.

Swapo MP Kazenambo Kazenambo said he supports 5050 unconditionally but nonetheless had issues regarding the recommendations of a report on gender that was being debated and, among others, proposes preferential treatment for women in regard to procurement and access to credit.

“My lord, in this country, there are women who are filthy rich like men,” he said.

Kazenambo also said black men and women have emerged from the same conditions and it would be “manipulation, daylight robbery and theft” if 24 years after Independence, women were given preferential treatment.

Minister of Finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was moderate and warned that the quota should be well-planned to avoid missing its objectives.

“It is important for us to plan how we are going to achieve this important objective of gender equity because as a wise person said, failure to plan is equal to planning to fail. If we just decide that this is what we want to achieve but don’t simultaneously work out mechanisms to achieve that, then we are definitely not going to achieve [what we want],” she said.

She said 5050 is not just about having equal numbers of men and women in structures but also about the outcome of the work.

RDP parliamentarian Agnes Limbo accused fellow women of being intolerant to each other and being deceived by men during electoral campaigns.

“We fail to work together as compared to our male folks. Even if we look around here [parliament], why are we failing to establish our women caucus? We failed as a nation because we cannot work together,” she said.

Swanu’s MP Usutuaije Maamberua questioned how the quota will be implemented.

“I have one serious problem and that is mathematical problem. 5050 can only apply to odd numbers. If a party gets seven positions, what is 50% of seven?” he asked.

Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko bemoaned lack of input from young people into the 5050 issue.

“We have completely forgotten the element of young people. We are sitting in this chamber without the representation of their views,” he said.

Source : The Namibian