Staff Writer

President Hage Geingob officially opened the 3rd Session of the 7th Parliament on Tuesday.

He welcomed the planned tabling of the Combating of Rape Amendment Bill and the Combating of Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, as government moves to implement stiffer penalties and sentences for offenders.

“A nation that cannot guarantee the safety of its women and children is a nation, which can never ascend to the lofty heights of prosperity. Crimes that are aimed at women and children, often in the most brutal fashion, have become persistent in our society, with devastating consequences. This cannot be tolerated. I therefore implore you, as lawmakers, to ensure that we create a legal environment, which exacts maximum punishment on the perpetrators of these deplorable crimes so that we can rid our society of this scourge,” the President said in his address.

The two bills are among 12 others that are expected to be passed during the course of the year.

“Part of my duty in opening Parliament involves referring to the legislative programme for the coming session. I am therefore pleased to note that the following bills are up for tabling during the Course of the year. These are: Combating of Rape Amendment Bill, Combating of Domestic, Violence Amendment Bill, Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, High Court Amendment Bill, Magistrates Court amendment Bill, Divorce Bill, Ombudsman Bill, Child Justice Bill, Marriage Bill, Uniform Marriages Bill, Banking Institutions Amendment Bill and the Metrology Bill,” he said.

“As part of our construction plan for the Namibian House, we want to build a nation where our citizens, irrespective of their age, race and gender, feel loved, secure and happy in their homes and communities. It is therefore of utmost importance that the integrity of our House is guaranteed by laws that deter and prevent behaviours and conditions that place the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community under threat.”

The President warned against laxity when it comes to delivery by elected officials. “COVID-19 cannot be an excuse for no delivery of service. Yes, it will impact the manner and sometimes the rate of execution, but ultimately the onus is on us to find novel and innovative ways to achieve our goals, without delay.”

He added that resilience will mean, rising above the challenges of COVID-19 to deliver on the mandate bestowed on elected representatives by the people of Namibia. The planned legislative reforms come after government was last October forced to implement a raft of new measures to fight Gender Based Violence (GBV) and rape in the country after public protests erupted over how cases were being handled by law enforcement agencies, and the light penalties imposed on perpetrators.