By: Selma Taapopi
The Minister of Justice, Yvonne Dausab says that the accumulation of discriminatory and problematic laws has hampered the country from moving forward, and the consequences of their application are no longer beneficial and in line with the county's current constitutional dispensation.
As a result, the Law Reform Development Commission (LRDC) has initiated phase 2 of the Repeal of Obsolete Laws project, which identified for repeal, 71 discriminatory and outdated legislative pieces.
Speaking in parliament last week, Yvonne Dausab explained that obsolete laws are no longer relevant in Namibia for a number of reasons.
These reasons include that the law is superseded by more recent legislation covering the same subject matter, the law was enacted to serve a specific purpose that has already been concluded, the law is a patently unconstitutional relic of the apartheid system, the law is clearly irrelevant in an independent Namibia.
"As a government, we further recognise that public perception is that we are not doing enough to rid our legal landscape of outdated or obsolete laws. Whilst we accept this criticism, we can assure the public that there are ongoing reform projects to improve this situation. But law reform is long and tedious and requires public support and understanding. In fact, we encourage the public to assist with identifying and informing us of laws they encounter and which are no longer beneficial in a Namibian society" Dausab told members of Parliament last week.
Dausab further said that the Repeal of Obsolete Laws bill will provide for the repeal of certain outdated laws, many of which are discriminatory on the grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed as well as social and economic status.
"For instance among these obsolete statutes are the Natives Minimum Wage Proclamation of 1944 (Proclamation No. 1 of 1944) and the Cultural Promotion Ordinance of 1980 (Ordinance No.9 of 1980). The LRDC stated in its report that the Natives Minimum Wage Proclamation of 1944 provided for the payment of minimum wages to “natives”. It defined a native as any person other than a European. The Natives Minimum Wage Proclamation of 1944 is clearly discriminatory on the basis of race, as it only regulates the wages of “natives” and excludes other races. It is also a violation of the guarantees of non-discrimination and equality before the law in Article 10 of the Namibian Constitution, as well being a vestige of the oppressive contract labour system, which was a defining feature of the pre- Independence era" Dausab stated.
The second phase of the Repeal of the Obsolete Laws Project was reinforced by the submission of proposals by various organisations, ministries, agencies and civil societies in Namibia in accordance with section 7(2) of the Law Reform Development Commission Act which empowers the Commission to “invite and receive any suggestions relating to its objects from any person or body”.