14 December 2012

Namibia: New Research Regulations Draconian

THE Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) condemns in the strongest terms the ill-conceived draconian regulations on research. Namibia is a developing country in the 21st century and as such cannot afford to entertain any regulation and/ or law inhibiting and controlling research.

The so-called regulation is poorly constructed to such an extent that it has not left any space open for students, researchers and institutions to carry out research work without first seeking and or applying for permission and approval from the National Commission of Research Science and Technology.

Whoever proposed such a regulation to Cabinet for approval did not think in-depth about the consequences of such a law for institutions like schools, the Polytechnic of Namibia, the University of Namibia, law firms, and medical practices in Namibia.

These institutions cannot execute their mandate to achieve Vision 2030 and the objectives of NDP4 without any evidence-based research. Moreover, it is unrealistic to expect all Namibian citizens, who are engaged in research, to apply for permission and get approval timeously, considering the low level of competence in the public service sector. This is an ill-conceived control mechanism.

In its current form, apart from the earlier mentioned institutions, media outlets and the United Nations agencies operating in Namibia will also be affected. The new regulations will not only interfere with academic freedom of individual citizens, but will also put unnecessary pressure and restrictions on the ability of citizens and institutions to do research.

Namibia's lack of research-based discourse has been cited as one of the stumbling blocks to national development on many occasions. Introducing these limiting, short-sighted restrictions will serve no positive purpose for the nation.

Namibia is a democratic state, which is premised on justice, freedom and equality before the law. To introduce a law that is in total violation of fundamental human rights is as good as returning the oppression and social injustices our people suffered under the apartheid system.

Without hesitation, the RDP is joining other progressive forces and call upon President Pohamba to immediately scrap the so-called regulations. In addition, officials who have the audacity to propose such ill-conceived regulations must be reprimanded. Laws that infringe upon fundamental human rights shall not be entertained.

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