Helena Johannes

The sexual and gender based violence ( SGBV) protest leaders say they still stand by their demand for Gender minister, Doreen Sioka to resign despite their meeting with President Hage Geingob on Friday.

“Our demands remain unchanged, we are still calling for a state of emergency and for the resignation of Doreen Sioka. We will from hereon, transparently engage government. Should this fail, we will be back in the streets, using our voices to assert our right to safety,” one of the protest leaders, Bertha Tobias said via her social media platform.

She said that although it had been agreed during the State House meeting that there will be collaboration between the movement and the Gender ministry, Tobias said, “The work to be done that we are referring to is by the ministry, not by Doreen Sioka herself. The Minister has not shown what she has been doing in this regard.”

“There has been meaningful collaboration; there has been conversations and something that was important that we all considered is that there has been definitely an information gap. There has been miscommunication as there is work that is being done by the ministry of Gender that we were not aware of.”

This comes as the group said it did not agree to the meeting with the President being held behind closed doors.

“We did not agree on a closed door meeting. We thought the media will be there but to our surprise, we were just told the media will not be part of the meeting the moment we arrived,” Ndiilo Nthengwe told Windhoek Observer.

She however said they did not have enough time to ask questions abt why the media was excluded from their meeting as SGBV is a public issue, and “we just continued with it with the media presence or not, our aim was to discuss this issue with the government.”

This comes as a misunderstanding has erupted between the representatives and protesters on why they have agreed on a closed door meeting with the President. “We shouldn’t have agreed to go to State House. Hage should have come to the ground to address us all. For once!” said Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja, one of the protesters.

The concerns about a closed meeting are because the four leaders have received backlash over the move, with many of the rank-and-file protesters accusing them of being secretive about what transpired during the meeting.

“We could not manage to call on people for the feedback as we have been busy with our personal lives. We have made a technical follow up on our social media platforms,” Nthengwe said.

“We are open for people to contact us if they need any feedback regarding the meeting. However, to call fellow protesters in the street to give feedback can still be done in due time, just that we are also busy with work and academics.”

In a read-out statement issued by the Presidency, Geingob assured the youth leaders that communication within government will be strengthened to share actions and policies in place to strengthen the fight against gender-based violence. However, the President agreed with the youth leaders against GBV that there was a need to be creative and to do more to protect vulnerable Namibians.

On the implementation of the response measures in the petition by youth leaders, the meeting agreed to the establishment of a technical committee comprised of youth leaders against Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) and other stakeholders, including the government.

Nthengwe said this will be a voluntary committee and everyone can register to be considered as a member. “We will come up with a platform whereby interested participants will register, that’s when we will make a selection as the committee cannot contain hundreds protesters,” she said.