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Namibian civil society campaigns against Constitutional Third Amendment Bill

My Constitution, My Decision/MISA/Facebook

A coalition of civil society organisations, on 7 August 2014, united to launch a campaign calling for the withdrawal of the Third Constitution Amendment and demand wide public consultation on the proposed amendments in 2015.

We further question the haste in which the bill was tabled and the secrecy that preceded the tabling of the bill, which contains over 40 changes. It is expected for the bill to be debated on 12 August 2014. It was read for the first and second time on 31 July. After it has been read for the third time, it goes to “committee stage”, which is only meant for Members of Parliament.

At this stage we choose not to identify specific concerns we have with the bill, as the proposed changes can have a far-reaching effect on, not only the composition of our legislature and government, but on the life of every citizen. For the potential impact of the bill to be identified, we need the services of legal and constitutional experts, which cannot be obtained on short notice.

The only sensible option is to call for a halt to the current parliamentary proceedings and undertake extensive public consultations. Let the people discuss the pros and cons of such major changes.

Access to information is critical in a society that aims to strengthen citizen participation, promote critical thinking and debate, and achieve socio-economic justice. Namibians were not provided access to information on the bill, but were thankfully informed by the media, who had to use leaked information.

As civil society we believe constitutional amendments – flowing from a narrow concern for the interests of the political elite – have the potential to irrevocably alter the direction of society. It is our duty to uphold our mandate to highlight and advocate against developments that can negatively affect citizens.

In conclusion, we call upon Namibian media to continue playing their role in informing citizens on issues affecting them and create platforms where they can share their views on the issue.

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact:
Toni Hancox, Executive Director, Legal Assistance Centre:
Carola Engelbrecht, NANGOF,
Graham Hopwood, Executive Director, IPPR,
Natasha Tibinyane, Director, MISA Namibia,

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