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Gauteng’s Oversight Committee concludes its study visit to the National Council

From left: Deputy Chairperson of the National Council Women Caucus Hon. Hilma Nicanor, Head of Gauteng delegation Hon. Godfrey Tsotetsi, Member of Women Caucus Hon. Joyce Namuhuja Members of the Gauteng Oversight Committee, Gauteng support staff, members of the National Council Women Caucus and National Council MP after their deliberations

  Story by Rafael Hangula

The Gauteng’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature has concluded its week-long visit to the National Council on Friday 1 December 2017.

The Committee was here since Monday 27 November 2017 to learn and share information on mechanisms applied in Namibia on issues related to Public Participation, assess strategies and techniques which may assist the implementation of Governance with best practices.

Before the kick-off with activities, the delegation paid a courtesy call on the Vice-Chairperson of the National Council, Hon. Bernard Sibalatani and on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi, with the Director in the Office of the Speaker, Mr. Gerson Tjihenuna standing in for the Speaker who was away on official duty.

During their time in Namibia, the delegation which comprised of Members Parliament and support staff held several meetings with National Council Committees and government institutions and engaged each other on the best practices of governance.

The Deputy Chairperson of the National Council Women Caucus Hon. Hilma Nicanor received the delegation on behalf of the Chairperson of the Women Caucus Hon. Margaret Mensah-Williams who at the time of the meeting was presiding in the Chamber when the visitors engaged the Women Caucus on the its mandate and roles.

The National Council Women Caucus was established in terms of Rule 160 of the National Council Standing Rules and Orders, with the Mandate to scrutinize and report to the Council on matters falling within the ambit of Ministries, Agencies, Organs, all State-Owned Enterprises and the private sector concerning the advancement of the agenda of women development; to scrutinize and review the implication of Bills and Acts of Parliament that discriminate and negatively impact on the lives of women.

It has also the responsibility to undertake awareness campaigns and encourage information dissemination on matters related to women; to lobby and advocate for more women representation in decision-making bodies.

In sharing the best practices of the Caucus, the Deputy Chairperson explained that Women Caucus has an Annual Regional Outreach Programme which targets rural areas and its aim is to raise awareness on various issues such as: alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, HIV/Aids amongst the youth, early child marriages, gender based violence etc.

Another goal is to interact with communities concerning Acts of Parliament which directly affect the lives of women and children such as Maintenance Act No. 9 of 2003; Combating of Domestic Violence Act No. 4 of 2003; Married Persons’ Equality Act No. 01 of 1996; Combating of Rape Act No. 8 of 2000 and Liquor Act No. 06 of 1998.

However, she was quick to point out that public participation in the Law-Making process in Namibia remains at a very low level, adding that this could perhaps be attributed to the absence of robust and active Civil Society Organisations.

“They rarely participate in the law-making process hence the importance of Parliament to engage the public through a strategic and well-thought public education programme,” she said.

She further shared some of the initiatives by the Caucus such as the formation of the Rural Women’s Parliament with Men as Partners established following the resolution of the 2011 UN Commission on the Status of Women, which called for the involvement of grassroots women in social programmes with the objective to empowering them to become leaders in their communities.

For the experience sharing the head of the Gauteng Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature delegation Hon. Godfrey Tsotetsi as well as Hon. Brian Hlongwa a Member of the Provincial Legislature shared that as a country to track the issue of gender outside government the SA government has what is called Employment Equity Act that requires all companies to disclose how many women were employed and promoted at senior levels for the benefits of empowering women in their country.

Hon. Nicanor responded that Namibia and South Africa are similar particularly on the area of gender proportion making reference to the number of top positions that are headed by women in government. The visitors added that back home they have initiated “Girl child” project aimed at empowering a girl child such as through education, providing sanitary towel so that they don’t miss classes and other toiletries.

The Delegation then visited the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Namibia with keen interest on how the ACC deals with the issues of corruption in Namibia because they don’t have such in their Province. The Deputy Director of ACC Erna van der Merwe received the delegation and explained how the institution functions. She said that ACC ensures a corruption- free Namibia and develops, establishes and maintain an effective system of integrity, transparency, ethics and accountability in all sectors of society in Namibia as part of its mandate. “We are a leading agency when it comes to investigations in the country,” said

She added that as part of preventative measures, ACC initiated National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, which guides the institution’s operations.

Van der Merwe also briefed the delegation on various forums and mechanisms that are in place to deal with corruption. Visitors had also a chance to talk to the National Planning Commission were they held discussions on Monitoring and Evaluation of Development projects, Punitive measures on regarding incompletion of projects by the contractors and procedures regarding reallocation of funds from one project to another.

Other meetings they held were with National Council Audit Committee, Trans Kalahari Corridor Group and Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).

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