Release report now!

06 September 2013
Author  

It is difficult to understand all the toing and froing over the release of the report the Fourth Delimitation Commission. Things that people regard as routine and relatively simple matters in most countries always become extremely complicated in this country.

Now State House officials have suddenly become all pompous and legalistic with regard to release of the report.

They tell us the report falls under the 1947 Commissions Act, which makes it the prerogative of the president to release the report.

We know that! We are not fools! What we want to know is why he has not released the report and why he does not release it right now.

Stop talking down to us as though we are children, or imbeciles!

It is exactly this type of muddled and erratic behaviour that often undermines the efficient functioning and credibility of our Government.

Minister of Presidential Affairs Albert Kawana quite absurdly wants to shield the president behind the 1947 Commissions Act – a piece of legislation passed before he himself was even born.

When the South African parliament passed the Act in 1947, Field Marshal Jan Smuts was prime minister of South Africa, and then South West Africa.

Our head of state was British King George VI who ruled us through his Governor-General.

The malevolent Afrikaner priest Daniel Francois Malan stood on the brink of seizing power from Smuts, and he would usher in the traumatic chapter of apartheid that would last for the next 46 years.

This piece of rubbish legislation has no place in today’s world.

Kawana wants to assign the powers of a British constitutional monarch in the first half of the last century to a democratically elected Namibian president in the 21st century.

While State House wastes our time with nonsensical lectures about the president’s ‘prerogatives’, President Hifikepunye Pohamba may have just neglected to give explicit instructions to have the report released.

However, if he has simply decided not to release the report the whole matter becomes even more worrying.

If President Pohamba has decided not to release the report what dark and sinister secrets does he want to hide?

Following the debacle of the disputed 2009 elections one would have hoped that our Government would want to open a new chapter of openness and transparency far as the management of elections is concerned.

This is the hope and expectation all Namibians had when President Pohamba appointed the Fourth Delimitation Commission and parliament endorsed the appointments.

The division of administrative regions of the country does not only have a profound effect on the political life of the country but also bread and butter issues such as the delivery of public services.

The freedom of information advocacy group Action Namibia quite rightly points out that President Pohamba needs to release the report in the interest of transparency, accountability and democracy.

The Delimitation Commission held public hearings across the country, ostensibly to give members of the public a voice and some input into its final recommendations.

Taxpayers paid for this long and cumbersome process, only to now find out that they have no right to know what recommendations the commission made.

It makes no sense to waste people’s time by asking them to come and make submissions at public hearings and then tell them they have no right to know what the commission recommended, or on what rationale it based those recommendations.

Do we conclude that the appearance of transparency and the consultative approach of the commission was all just sham and a pretence?

The question remains, what does Pohamba want to hide? We can only speculate!

Does he want to hide that he has simply decided to ignore the Delimitation Commission’s recommendations – again meaning it was just a waste of time.

Or have he and his colleagues been busy with some gerrymandering i.e. redrawing constituencies to their own liking to ensure their own preferred election outcome?

The lack of transparency inevitably arouses suspicion!

God knows, no one wants to have to go through the 2009 election nightmare again.

The four delimitation commissions the country has had so far have changed the political and administrative landscape of the country significantly.

We have gone from 13 regions in 1990 to 14 regions in 2013 and from 95 constituencies in 1990 to 102 constituencies in 1998, 107 in 2002 and now 121 in 2013.

All this involves additional administrative complexity and above all additional cost.

No price is too high to pay for democracy, especially if demographic changes justify these increases in the number of constituencies.

We don’t mind paying as long as we know the reasons for the changes, and Government has no right to keep us in the dark.

Good reasons exist why Governments should keep some things secret, for example, reasons of national security.

However, it is difficult to conceive of any plausible national security reason why the president needs to keep the delimitation commission report secret.

No reasons of national security inhibit the release of the report. The taxpayer paid for it, which makes it public information and public information is for public consumption.

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