Nangof calls on Cabinet to put on hold Constitutional amendments

01 Aug 2014 14:20pm

WINDHOEK, 30 JUL (NAMPA) ? The Namibian Non-Governmental Organisations? Forum (Nangof) Trust has voiced grave concern regarding proposed amendments to the Namibian Constitution, saying it is being rushed through Parliament. Prime Minister (PM) Hage Geingob is expected to table the long-awaited Constitutional Amendment Bill, as well as the Electoral Amendment Bill in the National Assembly (NA) on Thursday this week. The organisation which is an umbrella body for non-governmental organisations in Namibia, said in a media statement availed to Nampa here on Wednesday that no meaningful consultations took place on these substantive changes with the PM last week. It was referring to the meeting between Geingob and a handful of political parties. Nangof said a number of proposed changes are so far-reaching that they require extensive, national consultations with citizens, stakeholders and civil society. Of particular concern are suggestions to increase the NA seats from 72 to 100 and National Council (NC) seats from 26 to 42. Other concerns include the increase in the number of presidential appointees to the NA from six to eight, and to give these appointees full voting powers. ?Another cause for concern is also the proposal that regional governors will be given a constitutional status which would effective entrench their existence,? read the statement signed by Graham Hopwood and Toni Hancox, the co-chairpersons of the Nangof Trust Human Rights and Democracy Sector. Nangof pointed out that several of the proposed changes appear to be an attempt to further centralise power, and therefore undermine democracy. The changes proposed concerning Parliament would have a cost implication which would have a negative impact on the national development budget and service delivery, said the organisation. ?We therefore call upon Cabinet to place this matter on hold and to allow for a full consultation with interested stakeholders and the public. There do not appear to be any justifiable arguments for rushing such amendments through Parliament,? it said. Similarly, the Electoral Amendment Bill would ensure the possibility of the erection of an Electoral Tribunal and an Electoral Court. It will also see electoral matters pushed to the Electoral Court before being forwarded to the Supreme Court and allow for the possibility of elections to be held in a day. (NAMPA) SL/ND/