Namibia, which celebrated a quarter of a century as an independent sovereign state, still has in its legislation books out-dated laws. And these have piked the antenna of the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC), whose chairperson Yvonne Dausab says they have targeted 173 laws that need urgent attention.
Among these, she said, is the Redline Marriages Bill, review of grounds of divorce in Namibia, inheritance and the customary law as well as marriage laws that have elements of being out-dated.
“Because of the nature and scope of these laws, they are receiving urgent attention as part of the project on family law,” said Dausab in response to wide-ranging questions from New Era Weekend.
So far, she said, the Uniform Matrimonial Property Consequences Bill (that is, Redline Marriages) and the Combating and Preventing of Torture Bill have been submitted to the Minister of Justice for consideration and Cabinet approval and submission for consideration at the Cabinet Committee on Legislation.
Dausab was appointed on April 14 last year on a five-year fixed term contract by President Hage Geingob in accordance with the Act that established the Commission, Act 29 of 1991.
She described her first year in office as a mixed bag of “settling in, learning the workings of law reform processes, managing a team of researchers, participating in Cabinet Committee on legislation meetings, making presentations at parliamentary and National Council workshops, and providing leadership to both the directorate and the commission.”
The commission consists of Dausab (as a full-time chair) with assistance from the Ombudsman, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Law, two advocates from the Society of Advocates, one legal practitioner, a conveyancer and a legislative drafter. The commission is further assisted by a secretariat provided by the Ministry of Justice through the Directorate of Law Reform.
The LRDC administers and manages the Law Reform and Development function in line with the enabling statute and reports to the Minister of Justice on how it is executing its mandate. This the LRDC does through bi-monthly meetings and working committee sessions, where individual projects are discussed, project reports are scrutinised, bills are distributed and considered, and work methodologies are fine tuned, Dausab told New Era.
According to her, the LRDC – following its constitution – decided to continue with some of the projects from the previous commissions such as obsolete statutes, the family law project, administrative justice, review of the Red Cross Act and locus standi. The LRDC also adopted new projects in line with what President Geingob highlighted in his inaugural speech and subsequent State of the Nation Address and Harambee Prosperity Plan, she said. “In this regard, the LRDC and the Secretariat, adopted additional projects that will enjoy a level of priority alongside existing projects and these are the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF), which are currently being undertaken in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, the Road Safety Management Project, in which we are assisting the National Road Safety Council and the Ministry of Works and Transport, project on disability, in which we are assisting the Office of the Vice President, Department of Persons with Disabilities, the Prevention and Combating of Torture Bill, Review and Amendment of the 1936 Insolvency Legislation in Namibia and laws that contain provisions that impede and/or retard development in Namibia, a project that was proposed through the Minister of Justice, by the President,” Dausab stressed.
She said the Torture Bill, repeal of Section 17(6) of the Native Administration Proclamation 15 of 1928 (dealing with the so-called redline marriages), the NEEEF, Road Safety management and laws prohibiting development in Namibia have enjoyed considerable priority since her appointment. Considerable work has been done in terms of research, public and key stakeholder consultation, written public inputs and all that remains is further review of the bills and discussion documents followed by the certification by the LRDC. Dausab said it is her fervent hope that these matters will go through the reform process, such as the consultations with the Attorney General, preparation of the memorandum and submission to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation, submission to Cabinet for Principle Approval and then submission to the Legislative Drafters for their guidance and final drafting process with the urgency it deserves and that they be introduced to the National Assembly during this cycle of April 2016 to April 2017.
Caption (Pic: Dausab.jpg): Law Reform and Development Commission chairperson Yvonne Dausab.