Ekandjo’s push for anti-gaybills stir up a storm

Jerry Ekandjo

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah has questioned Swapo back bencher Jerry Ekandjo’s priorities in the National Assembly after the lawmaker last week demanded an explanation from the presidency on why his anti-gay bills are not yet signed into law.

Ekandjo questioned why the president has not given his private bills attention eight months after they were passed by parliament.

Kamwanyah says he is not so much worried about what Ekandjo had to say, but rather how parliament has been reacting to this.

“In this case, these bills were tabled by Ekandjo as private bills so I don’t know how much detail they went through, including to make sure it is not in violation of our Constitution. Because the bills themselves are rooted in hatred, so the question here is do we want our parliament to legislate hatred?

“I’m not only concerned about Ekandjo. We know he can be theatrical but I’m concerned with the speed in which they sailed through the National Assembly. I’m wondering what type of debate went into these bill that borders hatred. When parliament is [drafting] bills, it must enhance dignity and human rights, anything to the contrary is dangerous.”

Kamwanyah added that other bills or motions in parliament are not passed as quickly.

Ekandjo’s private member’s bills sailed through the National Assembly and the National Council unopposed last year.

“Once the youth unemployment motion was brought to parliament, we didn’t see the veracity and speed to discuss that issue. Which is some sort of a contradiction,” he said.

Human rights activist Omar van Heerden echoed Kamwanyah’s sentiments, saying parliamentarians should be spotlighted in this matter inasmuch as Ekandjo is.

“If I could have seen such pro-activeness on matters like unemployment, gender-based violence and others, we would have been in such a better place if our members of parliament (MPs) acted like this in regards to social issues. Namibians care about bread and butter issues and none of our parliamentarians are reacting to that.

“It is actually our MPs that are homophobic. They are inciting hate and they are inciting violence. It says that they are out of touch with the Namibian people and what their issues are.”


Lawyer Werner Boesak said the president has the discretion to refuse to sign bills under certain conditions.

Boesak told The Namibian the president can seek legal advice on the constitutionality of the bills, depending on the outcome, and refuse to sign the bills.

“I think we must start with article 56, which gives clear guidelines on when the president is obliged to sign. In such circumstances, the president’s discretion is limited. If that is the case, then the president might refuse because it amounts to a constitutional infringement and one might expect that the courts will uphold that part of the Constitution. But if the presidency has obtained legal advice then with such assistance it might be right to refuse to assent to the bill,” he said.

He, however, also noted that depending on the majority with which the bill sailed through in parliament, the president’s discretion might not be a big factor.

“Clearly, the president has his discretion but article 56 provides the provision of depending on the majority, of the president being obliged to sign the bill and other times he has the discretion to refuse,” Boesak noted.

He said Ekandjo is within his rights to want to pass a motion to hold the president accountable in this regard.

That motion, however, will have to be passed with an overwhelming majority in order for the speaker to act.

“From parliament’s point of view, if they pass a motion to hold the president accountable and the president does not act on it immediately, if parliament passes the motion, what it is required is that the speaker bring a mandamus against the president, which is essentially to apply to court for the president to be ordered to comply with parliament’s direction. That is as far as it can go but I do not see it getting that far.

“Parliament, being one of the arms of government, they have an obligation to enforce bills that are passed by parliament.

The critical thing to consider is whether the president is obliged to sign the bill,” he said.

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