Geingob Takes Another Swipe At Civil Society Groups

PRIME Minister Hage Geingob has once again slammed civil society groups for challenging the proposed constitutional amendments.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with Karas Swapo Party members at Keetmanshoop on Friday, Geingob said the civil society groups are challenging the proposed amendments “without saying what they are opposing”.

“You want to become co-administrators. You say consult us more. Now what do you oppose?” Geingob said.

Earlier, Geingob accused the opposition parties and civil society of mobilising foreigners to interfere in the country’s affairs through demonstrations against constitutional amendments ahead of the November elections, which they claimed are “unlawful” because the proposed constitutional amendments have not been put to the public for their input.

Some of the amendments call for the increase of parliamentary seats to 104 the creation of a vice presidency and the reform of the Electoral Commission of Namibia.

Defending the lack of extensive consultation on the proposed amendments, Geingob argued that people mandated the National Assembly to make the constitutional amendments through the sovereignty they had surrendered for five years.

“People and the opposition parties were consulted. Maybe not the civil society,” Geingob added.

Saying lobbyists groups are “issue based,” Geingob further accused the civil society groups of having become “everything, even politicians” in the country.

Defending claims that the ruling Swapo Party wants to enlarge parliamentary seats from the current 72 to 104 to create jobs for the old guard, Geingob said: “The population is growing, that is the element we take into consideration. Not to create jobs for our cadres (Swapo Party)”.

According to Geingob, the increase of parliamentary seats will benefit the opposition parties as the current electoral threshold of 5% to obtain seats in the National Assembly will remain unchanged as per their request.

Geingob agreed with the opposition parties’ argument that the creation of the vice presidency could result in a “top-heavy” government executive.

However, he explained in what he termed “side explanation” that the Swapo Party is not a “tribal” political party and wants to “reflect a Namibian character” as these top government positions would be occupied by different ethnic groups.

“Our aim is nation-building. To say’ one Nation, one Namibia,” Geingob added.

Confident that the constitutional amendments would soon be adopted by the National Assembly, Geingob said: “The amendments have already passed the committee stage. The third reading of the Bill is next”.

Geingob revealed that his party had even reached “consensus” with the opposition parties on arguments they had made, such as not to increase the electoral threshold, and that those elected by the Presidents to serve as parliamentarians should not be given voting powers.

“We (Swapo Party) made serious consensus, when we realised that they are (opposition parties) making sense,” Geingob remarked.

Geingob said the aim of Friday’s consultative meeting with the Swapo Party members was to thank them for having elected him as the party’s vice president who automatically become its presidential candidate and to campaign that they vote for him in the presidential elections.

However, Geingob spent much of the time defending the proposed constitutional amendments and lack of extensive consultations on the proposed amendments.

He aised the party members not to say to opposition parties that they are “dreaming” during their political campaign for the upcoming national and presidential elections, but instead to preach what the Swapo party government has achieved during its 24 years in power.

Source : The Namibian