The Minister of Justice Albert Kawana says the severe shortage of experienced judicial drafters, which hampers service delivery, is an unfortunate reality.
Kawana said if nothing is done to urgently address the critical shortage of experienced legislative drafters the country would experience more challenges in the lawmaking process, which might affect the work of the legislative arm of the state.
Kawana – who made the comments last week when motivating the N$423. 429 million budget of the justice ministry – said legislative drafting is a very scarce and specialized skill.
“When an experienced drafter resigns, it takes more than seven years to find a suitable replacement. Due to some changes in the government structure, more bills are expected to be drafted and tabled in parliament,” Kawana noted.
The directorate of legislative drafting falls under a sub-programme which aims to translate government policy into legislation. These include drafting of bills and subsidiary legislation such as proclamations, regulations, rules, and drafting of government notices.
Further, Kawana maintained that posts were created but, unfortunately, they were not funded. In addition, he said, a number of vacant posts due to resignations have been frozen.
He revealed that during the 2016/17 financial year the directorate of legislative drafting received 42 bills, including 13 bills that were brought forward from the previous financial year.
According to him, the directorate managed to complete 25 bills for consideration by parliament.
The directorate, he said, also received four subsidiary legislation and administrative notices. These include 13 proclamations, which were all completed, 59 regulations of which 46 were completed, 172 government notices, of which 166 were finalized and 11 general notices, of which 166 were finished.
The translating of government policy into legislation is a sub-programme under the main one called legal services.
This programme has been allocated N$48.596 million out of the total budget allocated to the ministry.
Legal services aims to translate policies into legislation, recommend reform of the law, provide legal services and promote international cooperation in legal matters.
The directorate of legal services, Kawana said, is also responsible for the execution of requests on extradition and mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters, service of civil process and reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders and other foreign judgements.
Further, the directorate is also responsible for coordination of Namibia’s human rights obligations and cooperation with treaty bodies to which Namibia is required to submit periodic human rights reports.
The minister indicated that the ministry created a new division to facilitate the effective implementation of the Maintenance Act of 2003 through the appointment of maintenance officers and maintenance investigators.
However, due to financial constraints, Kawana said, no financial resources have been made available in the current budget to implement these important measures.
He revealed the ministry will soon approach Cabinet with recommendations aimed at ensuring the Act is fully implemented.