Genocide Day consultation a no-show

A parliamentary standing committee had to call off planned public meetings in three northern regions because nobody showed up.

18 May 2017 | Government

The chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Sebastiaan Karupu, has expressed disappointment at the public's no-show at a consultative meeting on Genocide Remembrance Day in the Kunene, Omusati and Oshana regions.

Not a single person turned up for the regional meetings set up to deliberate the setting aside of a public holiday in remembrance of the 1904 to 1908 Herero and Nama genocide. Karupu said the apathy demonstrated was worrisome and described is as “not a good thing”. “For parliament to pass a bill it needs the inputs and views of the people across the country. It is very disappointing that we are likely to only get inputs and views from certain parts of the country,” Karupu said. The consultation meeting for Kunene was supposed to take place on Saturday, 13 May, while for Omusati and Oshana the meetings were supposed to take place on Monday. In an interview with Namibian Sun, Karupu said the no-show, which forced the cancellation and postponement of the meeting, was a waste of government resources.

“With the economic situation of our country, it is not advisable for us to come back here for the same business. It is a costly exercise that uses the taxpayers' money, but we will have no other alternative,” said Karupu. Despite hosting successful public consultative meetings in the southern regions, the committee was forced to postpone the meeting for the Kunene, Omusati and Oshana regions.

On 26 April last year, Swanu's Member of Parliament, Usutuaije Maamberua, tabled a motion in the National Assembly proposing a public holiday in remembrance of the genocide on 28 May, the day when all concentration camps were ordered to close.

The committee started the public consultation meetings in the south at the beginning of May.

They were well attended, but in the north the response has been one of apathy. Karupu said the southern regions meetings started on 7 May and the turnout was satisfactory in //Karas, Hardap, Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Erongo, but in Kunene, Omusati and Oshana people did not show up. He added that in the southern and central regions most community leaders and elders also made submissions in writing. Oshana's chief regional officer, Martin Elago, blamed the no-show on the “short notice” given by the standing committee. He said because of the short notice, there was insufficient time to invite the people to attend the meeting. However, his claim was dismissed by the clerk of the committee, Johan Frederick, who said the notification was sent to them on 8 May, giving them ample time to send out invitations.

The committee, consisting of Karupu, deputy chairperson Emilia Nuyoma Amupewa, Nauyoma Mandala, Margret Mahoto and Lucia Nghaamwa, proceeded to Oshikoto and Ohangwena before they will visit the two Kavango and Zambezi regions. The Khomas Region will be the last to hold the consultative meeting.

ILENI NANDJATO

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