Venaani displeased with Swapo’s decisionto reject the Bill recognizing Basters

Stefanus Nashama

McHenry Venaani, leader of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), expressed disappointment yesterday over the decision by Swapo members of Parliament to reject the Private Member’s Bill he introduced in the National Assembly. This bill aimed to recognize the Basters’ Traditional Authority.

Titled “Baster Traditional Authority Recognition and Urban Traditional Authorities Establishment,” the bill sought to recognize, protect, and promote the rights of the Baster Traditional Authority in urban areas. Venaani stated it was turned down by Swapo Party members.

“The rejection of this bill is deeply troubling. It highlights a concerning pattern of neglect and dismissal of the legitimate concerns of the Baster community, who have been tirelessly seeking recognition since 2003,” Venaani expressed.

While introducing the bill, Venaani pointed out that the Basters have faced numerous challenges that have diminished their cultural heritage and traditional authority. “The Captains Council, their traditional leadership body, has been systematically undermined. Their lands and assets have been taken away, and their income sources severed without compensation, in violation of the Namibian Constitution,” he remarked.

Venaani noted that the bill’s rejection not only overlooks the recognition of this community but also perpetuates a paradoxical situation they have long endured.

“This denial also challenges principles that are fundamental to any democratic society,” he added.

Emphasizing the importance of the issue, he said that recognition of the Baster community pertains not just to cultural identity, but to fundamental human rights as upheld by international law.

Venaani revealed that in 2003, the Council of the Rehoboth Baster community had approached the Namibian government to be recognized as a Traditional Authority. Yet, their pursuit of this status has been continually thwarted by the government.

Expressing his concerns about Swapo’s decision to reject the bill, Venaani said it denies the Baster community representation, as well as access to land rights, education, healthcare, social services, and other essential amenities in the country. This, he warned, makes them more susceptible to economic and social disparities.

“The Baster community is consistently left out of decision-making processes that directly impact their lives, intensifying their feelings of isolation and disenfranchisement,” he observed.

Venaani further alleged that by choosing not to recognize the Baster community’s Traditional Authority, the ruling party has betrayed the core tenets of democracy.

“Such a decision is a profound betrayal of democratic values and showcases a party that is disconnected from the essential rights and aspirations of its citizens,” he stressed.

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