No merit, no problem: Kawana

30 Jun 2019 16:50pm
WINDHOEK, 30 JUN (NAMPA) – Attorney General Albert Kawana has rubbished insinuations by Swanu President Dr Tangeni Iijambo that women who ascend to Parliament should do so on the basis of their competency and not because of “comradeship”.
According to Iijambo, the current practice by which women are elevated to the country’s legislature without having the requisite skills and competencies is a self-defeating exercise.
He was contributing during one of the series of debates in the National Assembly (NA) recently, which sought to amend both the electoral and local authority acts to include a provision that will compel all political formations to implement a 50:50 gender policy in their constitutions.
“I have no qualm with the 50:50 concept. However, merit should prevail. There is no way we can just wheelbarrow women into positions to acquire the 50:50. There must be merit,” Iijambo argued.
Some female Members of Parliament (MPs) were offended by Iijambo’s contribution, as could be heard from the floor.
They questioned why in any debate on equal gender representation, only women are subjected to merit, while their male counterparts are immune to the same.
Iijambo, however, was not swayed.
“To push women into positions without the relevant qualities and capabilities will not serve Namibia well, nor Africa or the world for that matter,” he insisted.
His assertions were however rubbished by Kawana, whose stance is that merit should not be a gauge to decide if a woman should make it to Parliament.
Kawana premised his argument on the fact that they did not ask for merit during their liberation struggle years whilst in exile.
“During those difficult years of the struggle, did we require our women folk to write exams to see whether they qualify to take part in the national struggle for the independence of this country? We did not,” he said.
He went further to claim that most households are headed by women.
“Are we subjecting those women to merit? No! So the issue of merit is out as far as I am concerned,” he said.
Also joining the fray was Swapo MP Lucia Witbooi, who said women should be given the opportunity to showcase their capabilities.
Popular Democratic Movement’s Vipuakuje Muharukua added to the debate, saying the motion is founded on sinister motives.
“Swapo MPs want to use this motion to force their party to ensure that their next president is female. If Swapo was serious about 50:50, we would by now have equal representation of men and women in Cabinet. The National Assembly will never be used to drive political agendas,” Muharukua said.
The debate continues when the NA session resumes on Tuesday.