PRESIDENT Hage Geingob yesterday officiated the opening of Parliament for the year and encouraged members of the Parliamentary committees to undertake visits to the regions, investigate government projects and conducting public hearings on pertinent issues such as gender-based violence and teenage pregnancies.
Geingob, speaking on the theme of the Parliamentary opening, “Promoting Integrity, Accountability and Professionalism”, noted that as the supreme lawmaker, Parliament should introduce laws to help the country combat social ills hampering socio-economic progress in the country.
Commenting on Bills which will be tabled in Parliament this year, Geingob stated that 14 bills will be tabled, including the Divorce Bill, Legal Practitioners Act Amendment Bill, Ombudsman Bill, Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Bill, Combating of Rape Amendment Bill, Child Justice Bill, High Court Amendment Bill (Rule 108 Amendment), Combating of Torture in Persons Bill, Electronic Transactions Bill, and the Bank of Namibia Bill.
Explaining some of the bills, Geingob stated that the Ombudsman Bill drafted for the Office of the Ombudsman, which is a constitutionally established office, must have much greater independence and enforcement powers in order to properly carry out its human rights functions. The Bill makes provision for this restructuring in terms of the international standards of Ombudsman Offices.
Geingob also elaborated on the Combating of Rape Bill and stated that the amendment seeks to make the Act much more victim-centred by placing additional duties on the prosecutor when dealing with bail applications and stating guidelines for service providers who deal with rape complainants.
“We have witnessed many disturbing instances in our society where individuals arrested for committing rape are released on bail, only to reoffend and cause more physical and mental trauma in our communities” he said.
Geingob added that the Basic Education Bill and the Public Enterprises Governance Bill, which is targeted at reducing the states capsising wage bill and better performances of public enterprises, was referred back to the National Assembly by the National Council for reconsideration.
“The tabling of these bills during this Session, demands absolute commitment and a high work ethic from legislators, in order to ensure that Parliament maintains a high success rate in passing these bills,” Geingob said.