Namibian laws contribute to poverty

28 Oct 2015 11:50am


The issue of poverty eradication cannot be dealt with from a social perspective alone and must also be addressed through reviewing and amending legislature that exacerbates this social ill.

Making the point at the two-day Conference on Wealth Redistribution and Poverty Eradication in Windhoek on Tuesday, the Chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission, Yvonne Dausab said Namibia needs to empower people to understand the laws affecting their ways of life because as a general practice, laws impose restrictions on people, particularly the vulnerable and poor.

"What I am advocating for is that lawyers must play a more active role in ensuring that people have access to justice and that we have the particular laws that prohibit, for example development, amended and repealed so that it enhances the lives of our people," Dausab said.

She noted that the Law Reform and Development Commission has a "Laws Prohibiting Development" project through which it has identified over 100 pieces of legislation that affect development by enhancing and participating in poverty, and in a way does not help to eradicate poverty.

The two examples she gave are the Affirmative Action (Employment) Act 29 of 1998, which she said needs amendment to include broad-based black empowerment, and the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995, which stipulates the willing-buyer-willing-seller approach that has clearly not worked well in Namibia.

She said these laws amongst many need amendments to ensure that there are practical ways of equitable land distribution in Namibia.

The Affirmative Action (Employment) Act (Act 29 of 1998) outlines measures that relevant employers are required to adhere to in order to ensure that persons in designated groups enjoy equal opportunities and are fairly represented in the various positions of employment.

The Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act 6 of 1995 covers the acquisition of agricultural land by the State for the purposes of land reform and for the allocation of such land to Namibian citizens, who do not own or otherwise have the use of any or of adequate agricultural land, and foremost to those Namibian citizens who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws or practices.

The Act also regulates the acquisition of agricultural land by foreign nationals and the establishment of a Lands Tribunal and its jurisdiction. "What we are trying to do now is to identify those laws and propose, even just provisionally for the moment, amendments to those particular laws so that we can have a situation in which we can have the wealth distribution that everybody is talking about, so that our people - all of us - can have the basic amenities of life". 

Dausab noted that everybody should have access to land, shelter, health services and all basic amenities that every person needs to live a dignified life.

The conference on addressing Namibia's poverty and wealth redistribution was attended by President Hage Geingob; various Government officials; traditional leaders; local and regional authority leaders; United Nations representatives; and officials from non-governmental organisations and the local business community. It ended on Tuesday.