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Event Reports

"DISCUSSION FORUM 2014" becomes a well-perceived political debating plat-form

by Dr. Bernd Althusmann

Konrad Adenauer Foundation Namibia and Angola introduces a new series of events in Windhoek

The new series called DISCUSSION FORM is the contribution of the Windhoek based Namibia and Angola office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation towards a discourse of important social and political issues in the 2014 election year.

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More than 200 participants attended the kick-off event on the 50/50 Gender Balance initiative that foresees an equal share of both sexes in parliament and on party lists which is a proposal of the ruling party. The keynote speeches were delivered by famous Prof. Joseph Diescho, CEO of the Namibian Institute for Public Administration and Man-agement, as well as Mrs. Nangula Shejaval, Scientist at the Institute for Public Policy Research in Windhoek.

According to Prof. Diescho, the quota is not well thought through as voters should not be obliged to vote for a specific candidate or a specific sex. The decision should rather be based on the qualification of the candidate.

Mrs. Shejavali countered this argumen-tation with facts from neighbouring countries. With 40% in South Africa the proportion of women was significantly higher than in Namibia were only 26% of the members of parliament are women. Head of the KAS office, Dr. Bernd Althusmann, agreed that the number of female parliamentarians does not reflect the quality of democ-racy; however he stressed that usually women address women related issues on the agenda.

The forum provided a platform to en-gage in a passionate debate about the pros and cons of the 50/50 Gender Bal-ance for Namibia.

The second event of the DISCUSSION FORUM dealt with the Constitutional Amendment as proposed by Parliament only a few days ago. The event took place at the Goethe Centre which was crowded with more than 200 people who came to follow the presenta-tion of Sacky Shangala, Chairman of Law Reform and Development Com-mission and author of the controversial draft. In a heated debate Mr. Shangala defended the amendment which in-tends, amongst others, an increase of the number of parliamentarians from 72 to 96, a increase of the number of parliamentarians appointed by the president from 6 to 8, a significant ex-tension of the National Council, the introduction of a Vice President for the time from November 2014 until the elections in March 2015, as well as an amendment that regional governors should no longer be elected but appointed by the president.

Many of the participants of the event that took place under police protection, regard these changes as a major democratic setback, even a slap in the face of democracy. Most of them ex-pressed that they feel that such an amendment should be based on a broad consultation process and sup-port of the community. The issue will be discussed in parliament on 12 Au-gust; different NGOs announced to protest in front of the parliament. The disapproval is also apparent amongst the media, the scientific community, and is also expressed in online forums. Keep posted about the exciting developments.

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