Open Letter to Jerry Ekandjo

Jerry Ekandjo

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and other (LGBTQI+) community in Namibia have observed the following with concern:

Last year, after the Supreme Court ruling to recognise same-sex marriages concluded outside Namibia, you tabled bills to contradict this ruling, pushed for their passage by the parliament and other arms of the parliament and relentlessly continued in your campaign to hound the late president and current president to assent to the bills.

We recognise the power bestowed upon legislators by Article 81 of the Constitution to overturn Supreme Court rulings. Still, we also recognise that the framers of the Constitution did not make parliament the final judicial authority or created the ‘Supreme Court of parliament’.

Jerry, we are uncomfortable with how quickly you have drafted the bills, and equally uncomfortable with how quickly the parliament passed the bills without considering the fundamental rights enshrined in the bill of rights in Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution.

The parliament has allowed itself to be misled by you, by not giving itself time to carefully consider how the proposed marriage amendment bills threaten the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive.

Respectfully, you have misled the parliament with misinformation that the Supreme Court ruling in the ‘Digashu and Another v GRN and Others’ and the ‘Seiler-Lilles and Another v GRN and Others’ cases formalises same-sex marriages in Namibia.

The truth is that the Supreme Court ruling is limited to same-sex marriages concluded outside of Namibia. You have erroneously caused panic over a court decision that does not exist and passed a bill based on untruths and misinformation.

As it stands, Jerry, your bills contradict a court ruling that does not exist, making the said bills unlawful, unconstitutional and baseless. We are disappointed that legislators have failed to inform themselves. Though you have access to the state legal adviser, the attorney general, to tell you that Namibia already has a law prohibiting same-sex marriage, there was no need for another law duplicating the same purpose.

Jerry, recently, you again reiterated that you cannot allow a ruling influenced by Western culture. What is horrifying is that your position to evoke Article 81 is influenced by apartheid South Africa.

The apartheid government introduced the Separate Representation of Voters Act in 1951 to enforce racial segregation and prohibit non-whites from voting. This was challenged in ‘Harris vs Minister of Interior’ and the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the applicant, invalidating this law.

However, the National Party did what you, Jerry, have just done in Namibia: It overturned the decision by introducing a contradictory law, in the process eroding the rights of non-white voters.

Even then, the new racially segregating law garnered overwhelming support from the majority in parliament, but that did not mean the majority was right.

Jerry, you are wrong; the Namibia National Assembly and National Council are wrong for passing the bills. The Namibian parliament has silenced the judiciary on protecting human rights and allowed human rights erosion to be further entrenched in the law.

Congratulations, Jerry, you have squarely mimicked the apartheid and colonial oppression, you have succeeded in repeating a horrid history we would rather forget.

The basic rights prescribed in the bill of rights serve as a reprieve following the genocide carried out by the German colonisers. Like the colonisers, you are using your power to oppress rather than to free your people.

The Young Feminists Movement of Namibia

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