8 November 2012

Namibia: AG Pienaar Remembered As a Gentleman

NAMIBIA’S last Administrator General, Louis Pienaar, died at his house in Belville, South Africa, on Monday.

The 86-year-old Pienaar, a lawyer and former diplomat in South Africa, was put in charge of Namibia in 1985, in the lead-up to the country’s independence in 1990. He subsequently became a minister in FW de Klerk’s government until 1993.

“He was a gentleman and highly intelligent,” DTA president Katuutire Kaura told The Namibian.

“We dealt a lot with him between 1985 and 1989 as part of the interim government. He was a dedicated person and also fair in his dealings. May his soul rest in peace,” said Kaura.

Reggie Diergaardt, who at that stage represented the United Democratic Front (UDF), described Pienaar as an analytical person who acted professionally.

“He had a sharp brain and was a gentleman. We did not agree with him on all issues but we differed in a decent manner from one another,” said Diergaardt.

Monitor Action Group Chairman Kosie Pretorius said Pienaar arrived in Namibia under very difficult circumstances, but “he handled it quite well”.

“He believed in fairness and it did not matter who you were, he would treat all equally,” said Pretorius.

Prime Minister Nahas Angula said he did not work directly with Pienaar, adding that Trade and Industry Minister Hage Geingob was working closely with the former AG.

Geingob could not be reached for comment as he was part of President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s delegation on a state visit to South Africa.

Pienaar worked under the supervision of the UN Special Representative to Namibia, Martti Ahtisaari, who arrived in Windhoek in April 1989 to head the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) during Namibia’s transition to independence.

On May 22 1989, AG Pienaar issued Proclamation AG 11 of 1989: ‘Establishment and Powers of the Commission for the Prevention and Combatting of Intimidation and Electoral Malpractices’.

On June 8 of that year, AG 14 of 1989 was proclaimed: ‘First Law amendment (Abolition of Discriminatory or Restrictive Laws for purposes of Free and Fair Elections)’.

On June 12, Pienaar declared a general amnesty against prosecution for all Namibians living abroad and repealed or amended 46 discriminatory laws. He extended the amnesty eight months later to South African officials and security personnel, including the South African Defence Force.

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