Swanu says will vote against Constitutional Amendment Bill

01 Aug 2014 14:20pm

WINDHOEK, 29 JUL (NAMPA) - Swanu of Namibia has proposed that Parliament only discuss changes to the Electoral Reform Bill and not amendments to the country?s Constitution, both of which will be tabled next week. Swanu Secretary-General (SG) Dr Tangeni Iijambo made the remarks in a media statement availed to Nampa on Monday after consultations with Prime Minister Hage Geingob last week on the proposed amendments to the Constitution. ?The timing of the wide-ranging constitutional amendments is wrong. The need therefore is non-existent considering that this outgoing Parliament and government do not have enough time to consider the proposals,? Iijambo stated. He said Swanu is primarily concerned that there is not enough time for broader consultations considering the broad and far-reaching proposals. He said the consultations Geingob had with opposition parties last week were ?just a smoke screen? in the sense that the time for them to study the documents and proposals and to share those with their broad membership was not provided for. ?It is our considered opinion that the proposed amendments be referred to a parliamentary ad-hoc committee to review and consult the population broadly,? the Swanu SG noted. He added that the democratic principles Namibia ascribe to deserve broader national consultations on fundamental issues of this nature. ?The urgency with which the amendments are rushed to be passed in Parliament is suspicious and can therefore not be entertained,? Iijambo said. He further added that though amendments to the Electoral Reform Bill are late, the country has no choice but to have credible elections. Swanu has thus proposed that parliamentarians discuss only the changes in the Electoral Act and not amendments to the Constitution. ?If however, the amendments are bulldozed through Parliament and the dictatorship of the majority is used, Swanu would have no choice but to vote against them,? he pointed out. Local English daily The Namibian reported last week Friday that there appears to be two drafts of the Constitutional Amendment Bill. A copy allegedly obtained by the newspaper indicated that parties which obtain less than five per cent of the national vote would not have parliamentary seats. Another copy obtained from an opposition party indicated that the number of valid votes cast will be divided by the number of seats to determine how many seats each party shall be allocated. The National Assembly (NA) was due for a break on 10 July and was supposed to resume on 09 September, but the house is still in session. Minister of Presidential Affairs and Attorney-General Albert Kawana announced in Parliament last Thursday that the reason for keeping the NA in session was to enable it to deal with a few bills, especially the Constitutional Amendment Bill and changes to the Electoral Reform Bill which needed passing. The complete reform on the Electoral Act will be known as the Electoral Matters Bill, and will comprise of four pieces of legislature which are the Electoral Commission Bill, the Electoral and Referendum Bill, Political Parties and Organisation Bill, and the Electoral Adjudication Bill. (NAMPA) SL/AS/ND