President should not appoint information commissioner – analysts

18 October 2021 | Government

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU

With the Access to Information (ATI) Bill to be re-tabled in parliament, political commentators Graham Hopwood and Ndumba Kamwanyah have suggested that the appointment of information commissioners should not be done by the president.

In terms of the bill, the president will appoint an information commissioner and a deputy commissioner following their approval by the National Assembly.

A selection committee will do the shortlisting, selecting and nomination of candidates.

Hopwood said he would prefer that the president was not part of the process.

“Ideally, I would prefer if the selection committee chose a candidate which the National Assembly then endorsed, and leave out the president altogether,” Hopwood said.

“As it is important for whoever holds this post to be a credible person, an independent and accountable recruitment process is crucial,” he said.



Lack of consistency

Kamwanyah feels there no consistency in the appointment of commissioners in Namibia.

He was referring to how certain ministries appoint their own commissioners, while that is not the case for the ministry of information and communication technology, which is tabling the Access to Information Bill.

“I think consistency is key to good governance and when you have inconsistencies, you create contradictions and you create a lot of suspicion and doubt as to why you want a particular commissioner to be appointed by the president and why not the others.”

Kamwanyah also said that the public perception of persons appointed by the president to lead institutions is poor.

In this regard, he referred to the ombudsman, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

He said these institutions are expected to be independent but their performance is viewed as appeasing the appointing authority.

The bill

The Access to Information Bill, which has been in the works since 2012, was tabled on 17 June 2020 in the National Assembly.

It is expected to be re-tabled once the ministry has concluded a second round of consultations.

The deputy minister of ICT, Emma Theofelus, was at Rundu on Wednesday where she and her team met a number of stakeholders who shared their input on the bill.

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