The Namibia Red Cross Society (NRCS) General Assembly has elected Advocate Bience Gawanas as the chairperson of its governing board. Gawanas, who was elected over the weekend, takes over from Professor Peter Katjavivi, whose term came to an end this year. Katjavivi served as chairperson of the NRCS for the last six years.
Gawanas, who emerged victorious among eight other candidates vying for the same position, in her acceptance speech called for transparency and hard work among NRCS staff, volunteers and members.
“I am committed to the principles of social justice and good governance as well as accountability because it is the only way that the organization can be efficient,” she said.
She added that the NRCS has to position itself in President Hage Geingob’s declaration of war on poverty and be part of the Namibian house. “Access to our people is a major problem as most organisations operate in towns and it is organisations like the Red Cross that go out to make sure that people have access to basic services and health care. We will therefore continue to strengthen our presence in the remotest areas of Namibia,” Gawanas said
She also applauded the NRCS for promoting the spirit of volunteerism, which has shown that there are still people helping others without expecting a reward in return.
She however bemoaned the fact that most executive members of the NRCS board are men except herself and called for a more gender-balanced board in the future.
She praised the Namibia Red Cross Society for following its constitution, which allows board members to strictly serve two terms of three years each.
Gawanas also expressed appreciation to Professor Peter Katjavivi for serving the humanitarian cause of the Red Cross with excellence and making the organisation’s activities visible in the country.
She is part of a nine-member team of the NRCS Governing Board. Some other members of the board are Innocent Mahoto representing the Zambezi Region, Paulus Sikongo, Kavango Region, Kristof Petrus, Oshikoto, Region, Celestinus Ndongi of Omusati Region and Festus Ikanda, Ohangwena Region.
Gawanas has over the decades gained knowledge and experience by serving in various high level capacities such as the Commissioner of the African Union, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union (2003 –2012),
Ombudswoman, Republic of Namibia (1996 -2003), Member of the Public Service Commission (1991-1996), gender law Lecturer at the University of Namibia, part-time (1995 -1997) and lawyer/researcher at the Legal Assistance Centre (a human rights NGO) (1990 –1991).