'Govt is destroying the economy'

09 September 2020 | Politics

DENVER KISTING

WINDHOEK



Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani says his party will not support any move by President Hage Geingob to renew the Covid-19 state of emergency, adding that government's regulations to curb the spread of the virus are destroying the economy.

He said the measures are also not having the desired effect. “With all the restrictions, we should not have such a high number of cases.”

For these reasons, Swapo can forget about the PDM supporting any plan to extend the state of emergency, which is scheduled to end on 17 September.

If Geingob declares a new state of emergency, it must be extended by a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly within seven days, otherwise it lapses.

“We will no longer support a state of emergency. We call on the president of the country to open up the economy,” Venaani said. Namibia's economy cannot afford any further damage, especially in the form of job losses, he warned.

He added that government has yet to come up with a strategy on how the country will live with the virus.



'Emergency not a strategy'

“An emergency is not a strategy. We are really disappointed in the government's handling of the matter.”

He also spoke out against what he sees as a lack of consultation.





“I expected the president to enter into discussions with the political actors about a strategy. We have given him the benefit of the doubt long enough. “

Venaani said it makes no sense to arrange an election in the midst of a state of emergency. “Political parties find it very difficult.”



The leader of the Independent

Patriots for Change (IPC), Dr Panduleni Itula, had earlier demanded that government immediately stop the Covid-19 restrictions to help the economy rise from the ashes.



Two-thirds majority

Justice minister Yvonne Dausab yesterday said: “Any decision for an extension must be submitted to the National Assembly.” She added that a two-thirds majority will have to vote in favour of the move.

She said there are other laws that can manage the public health crisis.

“Health directives are governed by the Public Health Act 36 of 1919 and the recently enacted Public and Environmental Health Act 1 of 2015, specifically part three thereof which will have to be operationalised to effectively tackle infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus.”

Under the latter law, the health ministry is primarily responsible for the overall public health of Namibians, Dausab said.

It also determines how the ministry should manage infectious diseases.



Flexibility

Dausab said emergency measures provide scope for flexibility in terms of processes and temporarily suspend certain provisions of existing legislation, so that the objectives of the state of emergency can be met.

“It is not supposed to replace existing legal and institutional frameworks. It only adds or suspends to make emergency operations run smoothly.”

She added that a state of emergency “is not intended as an opportunity to abuse state powers or to nonsensically reduce the benefits and protections of the rights of people”.

Geingob is expected to address the country this week on the government's continued handling of the outbreak.

The current regulations, which include a 20:00 to 05:00 curfew, end on Saturday at midnight.

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