This letter is with regard to a draft bill as suggested by the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC). It is the draft bill of the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF). Even though the principle might be correct, the prescribed methods undermine the Namibian Constitution.
In 1990, I (seconded by late Mr Katjiuongua) suggested a motion, which amongst other issues requested that a commission be appointed to provide guidelines for the interpretation and implementation of the policy of economic empowerment.
The National Assembly simply ignored it. At least I received the assurance from the then prime minister, Dr Hage Geingob, that “the government intends to bring the appropriate bill to the National Assembly in the near future.”
They waited until the South Africans first approved their bills regarding economic empowerment. Then, certain clauses were basically copied for Namibia, and this especially contradicted Namibia’s constitutional law.
For me, it was clear that the Swapo government bought some time so that the dust would settle about any compliance that they made with the wording of Namibia’s constitutional law.
Subtly and gradually, they could then return to their own wording as suggested by the subcommittee of 21 members representing all parties that received a seat in the Constituent Assembly.
Even a prominent member of Swapo, the late Ponhele Ya France, claimed that they were forced to compromise with the constitutional law of Namibia. The country was praised worldwide that everyone but me signed the constitutional law.
I remained outside voting. Swapo designed the definition in such a manner that if there is no counter-vote, it would mean that consensus was reached. If everyone voted for it, it would have been called ‘unanimous’. The chair at that time, Dr Geingob, rightly used the word ‘consensus’ at the final acceptance. However, others immediately incorrectly adjusted the statement to ‘unanimous’ as one of the subtle changes.
During the compilation of the draft constitution, especially the part about economic empowerment, I often wanted the assembly to define certain thoughts more clearly. However, Attorney General at the time, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, currently chief of the Ovaherero, assured me that the intention of the legislature’s decision would be decisive. Therefore, those who accept or write it should not allow inconsistencies.
I do not say that those who wrote the current law of 1998 were obtuse or dishonest, but I want to emphasise that they did not consult all the relevant documents. Any residing court will consider the issues that the legislature’s intention was ignored.
I do not know whether the members of the LRDC read the minutes of the relevant National Assembly session. However, I do know that they did not consult the essential verbatim minutes of the Constituent Assembly’s subcommittee. These minutes have never been made available for public scrutiny. For 26 years I begged that this be done, but to no avail.
When the Speaker of the National Assembly, late Dr Mosé Tjitendero asked the Secretary of the National Assembly, Mr Harker, to provide him with the verbatim minutes, they could not find it anywhere and therefore approached me. I still have the written proof of their signatures I required for it and an additional fasciculate copy that they made for me.
The same goes for Dr Hage Geingob, our current President, when he wanted a copy for his doctoral dissertation. Of this, I also have a written proof and a copy of his dissertation, which he gave to me as a gift.
In addition, an employee of NBC approached me and we had very satisfactory conversations. He also borrowed my minutes. When he later completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of Cape Town, I also received a free copy of his dissertation. I doubt that he would take offence if I mention his name. His name is Dr Audrin Mathe and currently CEO of New Era Publication Corporation.
I also do not know if Mr Dirk Mudge’s offer to provide the current government with a complete set has been accepted. Fact is that not all legislations accepted by the subcommittee since independence do reflect the intention of the Constituent Assembly’s legislature.
The reality stands that the Swapo Constituent Assembly negotiators’ integrity is in jeopardy. Can we trust them in any negotiations? I must however say that I realised over the years that there is a lack of synchronisation between the Swapo government’s doings and that of its officials when it comes to execution and application.
His Excellency the President Dr Hage Geingob’s Harambee plan and intentions differ in letter and spirit of NEEEF as suggested for economic empowerment.
The plan that is contradictory to the legislature’s intention will have to sound the retreat. Please feel free to read the relevant minutes.
J.W.F. (Koos) Pretorius
- Member of the Constituent Assembly (1989-1990) and National Assembly of Namibia (1990-2005)