Opposition parties question Whistle Blower Protection Bill

15 Mar 2017 16:40pm
WINDHOEK, 15 MAR (NAMPA) – The DTA of Namibia, supported by the Republican Party, has strongly recommended that the Whistle Blower Protection Bill before the National Assembly be referred to a parliamentary standing committee.
DTA Member of Parliament (MP) Jennifer van den Heever on Tuesday said a standing committee would address shortcomings in the Bill and take it for further public consultation.
Van den Heever drew the attention of the House to a media statement released by the ACTION Coalition last week in which it echoed many problem areas raised by numerous MPs.
Access to Information in Namibia (ACTION) coalition is a civil organisation in Namibia.
Some of the problem areas she highlighted were the fact that the bill disproportionately seeks to punish whistle blowers who may mistakenly make incorrect disclosures.
“Another major issue of concern is the overly political leaning and composition of all the bodies and offices which the bill will create,” she said.
She reiterated calls by other DTA MPs such as Elma Dienda and Nico Smit that the composition of these offices would bring into question the independence of the whistle blower protection office.
Minister of Justice Albert Kawana, when he tabled the bill last month, said Government through his ministry will establish a whistle blower protection office, which would consist of a commissioner, deputy commissioners and other staff members in line with the Whistle Blower Protection Bill.
Once passed into law, the bill will also make provision for the establishment of a Whistle Blower Protection Advisory Committee, which would consist of the Permanent Secretary (PS) of Justice as chairperson, PS of the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Office of the Ombudsman.
“In addition hereto, I would echo the sentiment by the ACTION coalition that a clause be inserted into the bill to directly guarantee its independence and prevent potential political or other interference,” she stressed.
Echoing similar sentiments, RP MP Clara Gowases questioned what would happen in a situation where those who are part of the advisory committee are being investigated.
“This is why the whistle blower protection office must not form part of the public service, but must be a completely independent body,” she pointed out.
Gowases said she welcomes the proposed introduction of an office to protect whistle blowers as it is an initiative that will go a long way towards discouraging corruption and abuse of resources.