The article in The Namibian, entitled ‘AG defends N$36m genocide legal bill’ refers. Let me from the onset state that this is theft of public resources, if not plundering of our resources in broad daylight.
I believe that President Hage Geingob should move the Attorney General (AG) to another position, as he is causing more harm. There is no way a legal practitioner can be paid N$36 million dollar bill without having been in court. The AG is disrespecting our intellect, by stating that these so-called experts were useful so far.
The person who did all the work is Advocate Sackey Akweenda, an advocate and a person with excellent legal experience, having worked for the Namibian government and who knows the genocide issue very well. Why should we employ lawyers from outside, when the government is still negotiating with Germany? It means we are paying for a future legal battle and travelling costs for the committee.
In terms of section 85 of the Legal Practitioner’s Act, the Judge-President if satisfied that, having regard to the complexity or special circumstances of a matter, it is fair and reasonable for a person to obtain the services of a lawyer who has special expertise relating to the matter and that the lawyer is not resident in Namibia or a reciprocating country, he or she may, upon application made to him or her in that behalf, grant to such lawyer a certificate authorising him or her to act in Namibia in relation to that matter.
Therefore, not only was the AG to inform the International Relations Ministry, but he also had to obtain permission from the Chief Justice, which does not come out clearly in the article. The permission will ensure that whatever the AG’s office is to pay, should be subject to the tariffs of the Law Society of Namibia, even if it is non-litigious work.
All bills of legal practitioners and advocates are subject to the guidelines of the Law Society with regard to what they can charge. I believe Treasury should subject this bill to be taxed by the Law Society.
In the cited article, the AG wants us to believe that he opted for foreign-based lawyers, because “Germany is very committed to ensuring that there is no legal culpability attached to their conduct in the yesteryear,” but he is failing to provide evidence.
I believe it is premature to argue that Germany is avoiding, for as long as the Dr Zed Ngavirue committee is still alive.
Even so, why use a junior Namibian lawyer and not the experts themselves, if we have advocate Akweenda already on the committee, or Europe-based lawyers and not Africa-based lawyers?
Is the AG saying that our country or neighbours do not have experts on human rights law? We had many complicated matters where we used Jeremy Gauntlet and Maleka, et al, in complex matters and still scored victory.
We have local legal practitioners and advocates who developed the jurisprudence of this country with their brilliant legal work, even on human rights. On the other hand, we used European lawyers, and still lost the only island we had, Kasikili. Therefore, using Europeans is not a sine qua non for legal victory, but more of a favour to friends and local henchmen.
It is equally being disrespectful to be lied to by the AG, that so far these so-called experts did good work, if Dr Akweenda is the one who is doing all the work, with the Europeans more having strategic planning sessions at Waterberg or Shark Island where there is nothing to learn, or stays in expensive hotels.
These foreign experts can do a desktop review, or allow Dr Akweenda to do field research on their behalf to save costs.
There is nothing under the law that can justify the high costs, the exchange rate taken into account. This means that these lawyers pocketed more than N$2 million per person, which is still more than all the senior counsel in this country will ask government.
This is not the first time the AG mortgaged the future of our children in broad daylight. He did that with Air Namibia, Kora, mass housing, the citizenship bill and the airport mess, where he is forcing the government to a contract that did not even exist in the first place.
The action of the AG so far indicates that he does not have the interest of this country at heart, or has so far failed to apply his mind properly to legal problems, and if not moved from his current position will cause more damage to this economy.
It will be in the best interest of Namibia if the current AG can be moved to a position where he can apply his mind properly and cause less damage. This will not be the first time a cabinet member is moved, and will not be the last.
We cannot allow our resources to be plundered on our watch.
* Joshua Razikua Kaumbi is a holder of BA in Political Science (Unam) and an LLB degree (Stellenbosch) and is a practising and admitted attorney. He writes in his personal capacity.