26 February 2016

Namibia: Refugees, Climate Change, Braille and Minimum Wage

Home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana insisted this week that government is ready to accept back Namibian refugees living in Botswana despite their fears of prosecution.

Iivula-Ithana made this remark in a statement delivered in the National Assembly this week where she rejected claims that the government will prosecute refugees who return home. Namibia agreed to accept the 732 refugees from Botswana by 31 December 2015.

Despite the agreement, a section of that group filed a court case on the eve of that deadline to stop the government of Botswana from allowing them to leave the country.

The group's legal representatives argued in a Botswana court in January this year that "there is a concern that, once returned they will face prosecution for alleged political offences committed in Namibia prior to their fleeing to seek refuge in 1999".

The legal representatives of the group alleged that "there are instances of persecution. On 9 December 2015 some of the Botswana returnees were found guilty of treason, sedition and attempted murder, and sentenced to imprisonment".

Iivula-Ithana rejected those claims and said Namibia is a democratic country governed by a constitution.

"Those who participated in this act of violence would obviously stand to be prosecuted. However, the majority of the 700-plus refugees in Botswana comprise of young persons who left Namibia either very young or were even born in Botswana. What crime have such innocent persons committed?" she asked. The legal case is ongoing.

SHIFETA ON PARIS DEAL

ENVIRONMENT minister Pohamba Shifeta said his ministry is preparing six national project proposals to benefit from an international climate fund of U$100 billion.

Shifeta said this in the National Assembly this week when he briefed lawmakers on the outcomes of the 21st conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change held in Paris, France last year.

"US$100 billion is expected to flow through this fund annually by 2020. The Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia has been accredited to the Green Climate Fund and we are busy preparing six project proposals that will be submitted to the Green Climate Fund later in 2016," Shifeta said.

Namibia promised to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 89% by 2030. It was agreed after that meeting that a UN Green Climate Fund will be operational in order to fund climate change projects.

BRAILLE CONSTITUTION

THE government has translated the Namibian Constitution into Braille, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said last week.

"We believe this translation will allow members of our society who are not able to see, to be able to acquaint themselves with the content of the Namibian Constitution," she said.

The translation was spearheaded by the attorney generals' office.

She said copies of the Constitution translated into Braille will soon be available to the public at the information ministry.

The office of the attorney general is also in the process of translating the Constitution into other indigenous Namibian languages.

MINIMUM WAGE

SWAPO back-bencher Veikko Nekundi tabled a motion to discuss whether introducing a national minimum wage will help those facing extreme poverty and restore their human dignity.

He said "a national minimum wage will stop companies from exploiting our people, those with little employment options and those with the inability to negotiate better wages".

Nekundi's motion was not discussed since no lawmaker showed interest in discussing the topic and it was referred to a parliamentary committee for further investigation.

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