Govt praised for sympathetic ear on constitutional amendments
WINDHOEK – Many minority parties have heaped praise on the government for listening to their concerns on some of the proposed constitutional amendments.
The only exception was the Congress of Democrats (CoD) which says the issue of amending the constitution was a non-starter, which should not have been brought up.
Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob on Tuesday in the National Assembly announced that plans to hand parliamentary presidential appointees voting rights in the National Assembly had been dropped.
CoD president Ben Ulenga said changes to certain amendments should not be used as a bargaining chip by the ruling Swapo Party.
“This issue is a non-starter because these amendments were not supposed to be there in the first place. It is also very unethical for Hage [Geingob] to be debating on the issue while he is widely expected to become president next year. It is unfair for him to be tampering with the powers of the office that he is widely expected to occupy,” charged Ulenga.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) MP Steve Bezuidenhoudt opined that government’s decision to address the concerns of the opposition shows that the amendments are being debated in “good faith”.
“Listening to our input is a sign of maintaining the democratic principles of this country. Of course Swapo has the numbers but the fact that they listened to us says a lot,” Bezuidenhoudt said.
He said all members of parliament should subscribe to Article 45 of the country’s constitution.
The article in question says, “The members of the National Assembly shall be representative of all the people and shall in the performance of their duties be guided by the objectives of this Constitution, by the public interest and by their conscience.”
DTA parliamentarian Katuutire Kaura said: “Finally some sense is creeping into the debates.”
The veteran minority politician added: “I maintain that presidential appointees should not be given voting rights because it is undemocratic. At least there is some sense of accommodation and desire to reach consensus instead of reverting to voting.”
Republican Party (RP) MP Clara Gowases also welcomed the announcement and remained optimistic that the debates would continue in a good spirit.
“The announcement just shows that we are busy building a nation instead of political agendas. We should always remember that what we decide in the Assembly should be to the benefit of all Namibians,” she said.
Apart from making a U-turn on presidential appointees’ voting rights, government also shelved plans to introduce a five percent threshold for all parties during the National Assembly elections.