Windhoek — The judiciary must ensure that the law is applied to all Namibians fairly, reasonably and in an understandable manner, thereby instilling confidence in the legal process "which is our best hope for achieving the fullest measure of human justice, social harmony and progress", President Hage Geingob said when he opened the 2018 legal year at the Namibian Supreme Court yesterday. "As the judiciary, you are tasked with the responsibility of being guardians and servants of the laws of Namibia, and this is a task you are expected to carry out with patriotism, dedication and integrity. Yours is a profession of trust. A noble duty, an indispensable function of our democratic construct," said the president.
He however cautioned against what he termed "overreach", which is when the courts are used as the forum to settle political disputes. President Geingob said "it will be a sad day when our courts disregard their aloofness and descend into the melee of politics".
He said that even though there is a problem of understaffing due to budgetary constraints, which could have an effect on the effectiveness of the judiciary, "the challenges present a true test of our integrity and we should pass this test by bluntly refusing to be compromised, no matter how difficult the situation is".
According to the president, the judiciary is a catalyst for the creation of a conducive business environment and the promotion of social justice. Therefore, he said, a well-functioning, competent, transparent and accountable judiciary sets a nation on the correct course towards prosperity.
"The successful pursuit of Namibia's developmental objectives, the war against poverty and corruption, as well as the realisation of shared prosperity amongst our people cannot take place in the absence of social order."
He added: "The judiciary, through the application of the rule of law, is indispensable to the task of bringing order to society."
The president said that in Namibia, the rule of law reflects not only the basic tenets of inherited colonial laws "but incorporates our innate cultures, norms and traditions, which formed the bedrock of our social order long before the days of colonial occupation".
"Unfortunately, we often hold on to certain colonial laws and traditions which hinder our efforts to modernise and streamline our governance architecture."
He urged the judiciary to review laws and customary practices that are archaic and which do not apply to the realities of modern Namibian society.
He said said that despite the challenges Namibia faces, the government remains committed to improve upon the administration of justice.
"We will continue to support our courts as well as other key stakeholders, namely the legal profession and the judicial and legal services to ensure fair administration of justice, for the purpose of maintaining the well-being of the population."
He said the judiciary remains a stronghold of Namibia's democracy and represents a foundation upon which the society can construct a platform "that will launch us towards our aspirations, as stipulated in Vision 2030, National Development Plans and Harambee Prosperity Plan".
"The Namibiaan House must be characterised by a just society, because a just society will always stand up against the scourge of corruption and a just society will eventually realise the dream of shared prosperity."
He added that he has the utmost confidence that in the Namibian House, the judiciary will continue to ensure that justice is delivered instead of denied, that poverty is eradicated instead of enforced, that ignorance becomes a thing of the past, and that under the rule of law, Namibians will stand and hold hands as one class, where no Namibian will be oppressed or robbed and no one will degrade a fellow Namibian, thereby ensuring that all Namibians and their properties are safe.