WINDHOEK- The Third Constitutional Amendment Bill, which sparked debate and sometimes controversy since its tabling in August ahead of the national elections, was gazetted on Monday – thereby becoming an Act of Parliament. General elections are slated for November 28. The one-day voting provision is contained in the new Act, nullifying the previous system where voting was conducted over two days. Electronic voting machines (EVMs) will also be used in Namibian elections from now on, according to the new Act. The Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC), which spearheaded the amendments, confirmed yesterday that the Third Constitutional Amendment Bill became an enforceable law this week. “The Act was already gazetted on Monday,” LRDC chairman Sacky Shanghala said yesterday. The Third Amendment Act now makes way for the seats in the National Council to be increased from 26 to 42, while the National Assembly’s seats increase to 96 from 72. According to the Government Notice No. 197 of 2014 the Act which has been passed by parliament was signed by the President on September 19, 2014. As part of the amendments, Namibia will from March next year have a vice-president – a position which never existed on the government organogram before. Despite criticism about having a president, vice-president and prime minister positions at the same time, Presidential Affairs Minister Albert Kawana stated earlier that having all these positions was important for the sake of inclusivity. The vice-president will not sit in parliament and may, as part of his or her duties, assign functions to the secretary to cabinet. In terms of Article 27 of the Act, “the Presidency shall consist of the President and the Vice-President, who shall be served by Ministers, Special Advisers and such other persons as the President may appoint as well as such staff members from the public service as may be appointed for that purpose in accordance with the laws regulating appointments in the public service.” The new Act also allows the president to appoint eight non-voting members to the National Assembly. Previously, the president only appointed six people to parliament. Other notable changes inserted in the Act include making provision for the Namibia Central Intelligence Service in the Constitution and allowing the president to appoint the head of the intelligence agency, who will also be a member of the Security Commission. The Act now also states that there will be a limit on the National Council’s review powers in relation to bills, providing for the levying of taxes and the national budget. Additionally, there are changes to the size of the National Council quorum requirements. Furthermore, the Act provides for a deputy chief justice, a deputy judge-president, the the magistrates’ commission and other lower courts’ commissions. It also provides for a tribunal to investigate the misconduct of judicial officers, change the composition of the Judicial Service Commission and also provides for a tribunal to investigate any misconduct of the prosecutor-general. Equally, the Act provides for a tribunal to investigate any misconduct of the ombudsman and will as well change the title of the director and deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to director general and deputy director general respectively. Moreover, there is also an article creating the Boundaries Delimitation and Demarcation Commission to substitute the Delimitation Commission. Opposition parties and the public at large wanted thorough consultations on the bill before it was passed in parliament ,with civil society organisations and academics fearing that if passed, the bill might give the president more power and control over state affairs, posing a threat to the country’s democracy.
New Era Reporter
2014-10-15 09:07:26 4 years ago