Parliamentarians have been called upon to ensure that the statements they make in the legislature about other branches of the State are true and thoroughly researched, unless they want to make a mockery of the ‘’parliament and its most important duty of making laws …. And keeping accountable the government of the day’’.
Legal practitioner and well known human rights lawyer, Norman Tjombe made this scathing remark in a statement following Landless People’s Movement’s leader Bernadus Swartbooi attack on the judiciary in the National Assembly saying only lawyers from law firms with political connections to the ruling party are appointed as acting Judges.
Listing the names and backgrounds of those who have been appointed to the bench, Tjombe said ‘’a cursory reading of easily accessible information will show that the appointments were on merit.
He said the political association or affiliation of most appointees are unknown and therefore ‘’it is demonstrably inaccurate to state the appointments of judges are somehow linked to individual’s employer’s political connections’’.
With reference to Sisa Namandje, Tjombe said that his appointment as acting judge was in 2008 and 2010 way before he presided over the Swapo internal elections in 2012 and 2017.
The lawyer said Swartbooi’s statement is false and advise the MP not to abuse parliamentary privilege and to rather seek answers from other branches of government and not just make wild statements.
Tjombe also came to the defence of Namibia’s Judiciary saying it is ‘’remarkably independent’’ and compares favourably with many older judiciaries elsewhere. ‘’Ruling and judgements, especially where the issues to be determined are politically charged, are testimony to that’’ adding that the recent judgement of the Supreme Court in Swartbooi v The Speaker of the National Assembly ‘’is perhaps a good example’’.
Tjombe said that Namibia does not have sufficient number of justices, because ‘’most senior legal practitioners are not willing to serve on a permanent basis, mainly because their practices are large and busy or command a more lucrative income than the remuneration of a judge’’.
Therefore, judges from outside the country are also appointed in an acting capacity or full time to the High and Supreme courts.
According to him a mix of judges with a ‘’different and varied philosophies, values, knowledge, backgrounds and beliefs’’ also improve the jurisprudence of the courts.
‘’The system of appointing persons as acting judges has greatly assisted the Judiciary, not only in the notorious workload of the Courts, but also it enabled both the Judicial Services Commission and the individual to assess if the individual is willing and able to serve on a more long-term basis,’’ Tjombe asserted.