Law reform commission not taken seriously

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WINDHOEK – The work of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) is not taken seriously with the Ministry of Justice not acting on reports submitted to it by the commission as far back as 2003.

Further, the funding the LRDC receives is inadequate,  limiting it in effectively carrying out its statutory obligations, LRDC Chairperson Sakeus Shanghala said yesterday.

“We are under-funded. Our operational budget is less than N$2 million. You can just imagine what we can do with that? We have done so much with so little funding,” he said. 

“There are many reports we publish but never see the light of day. We hand them over to the ministry (of Justice) but nothing ever happens, they (the publications) just lapse. The ministry must act on these reports,” an unhappy Shanghala said at the consultative meeting on the transformation of the Polytechnic of Namibia into the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

The work of the commission is mandated by Section 9 of the Law Reform and Development Commission Act of 1991. The LRDC was established to undertake research in connection with all branches of law and to make recommendations for law reform and development.

Further, Shanghala said the commission has been trying its best to get more funding from government but to no avail, hence their operations are hampered, especially when they have to travel to different regions for consultations.

“In 2012 we had a meeting in Swakopmund, working on a paper on issues related to family law. We requested funds from the ministry to travel to regions to get input but nothing happened,” said Shangala.

Some of the suggestions from the LRDC in the family law report include that the current divorce laws, which are based on fault, should be done away with and that the grounds for divorce be irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. It further suggested that these grounds be included in the application of divorce law in customary law marriages.

But Shanghala is hopeful that the LRDC suggestions in the discussion paper on the transformation of the Polytechnic of Namibia into the Namibia University of Science and Technology see the light of day.

Some of the recommendations are that the university shall consist of a chancellor, a council, a vice-chancellor, a deputy vice-chancellor, a senate, the academic and other staff as well as the students of the university. Moreover, the LRDC recommends that the incumbent rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia become the first vice-chancellor of the university for the unexpired portion of the period of his office as rector of the institution.

Other input from various stakeholders is that further clarity is sought on the naming of the university as it may denote that it is the only university mandated to provide higher education in science and technology.

Shanghala however said the discussion document about the Polytechnic of Namibia transforming into a university was aimed at ensuring stakeholder participation in the development and formulation of policy.

He added that the document would be circulated amongst various stakeholders who represent as broadly as possible the spectrum and varied interests of the higher education sector in Namibia for criticism and comment.

Its purpose is to initiate and stimulate debate and to serve as a basis for a final report that will be availed to the Minister of Justice to recommend for possible enactment into legislation.

By Albertina Nakale