The Namibian legal system has changed for the better when compared to before independence.

This was mainly as a result of the Namibian Constitution, the ultimate authority, which turned 34 years old on February 9.

The laws of the past made provision for some unspeakable acts to exist.

Some such included the prohibition of interracial relations and the movement and settlement of blacks in areas designated as for 'whites only'

It was a divide-and-rule policy inherited by the founding fathers of Namibia, and to address this backward policy, it needed their urgent and meticulous intervention.

The Namibian Constitution establishes the rule of law. 

This means that all people and institutions are governed by laws that must be applied and enforced fairly.

Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab and former Ombudswoman Bience Gawa!nas joined Daniel Nadunya on nbc's Wheels of Justice.

"It was about segregation so that you do not have the kind of unity that we find today; that was the policy, and that policy was buttressed by a myriad of pieces of legislation that were advocating for that segregation; if talking about bantu education, there was a law that supported it," explained Dausab.

Leading up to independence, the Namibian Constitution was the biggest project undertaken by the leadership of the day.

The aim was to abolish some laws and cripple apartheid, bringing it to its knees.

"What you then needed to do is make sure that your Constitution is supreme; everything is subject to that, because you are also coming not from a constitutional supremacy but from a parliamentary supremacy, and it is one of the things you do not want to go back to as a country."

But Namibia has kept some of the laws from before March 21 1990, and the question that begs an answer is, are these laws in unison with the living document, the Constitution?

"There has always been a provision that whatever laws we have inherited comply with the Constitution, and it was very important to do that because you have to provide for transition and not leave a vacuum in the legal system," said Gawa!Nas.

Some of the laws have seen total abolishment, while others have seen amendments imposed by an act of Parliament or by a competent court.

"From time to time, you would have amendments, for example, the Administration of Estates amendment that dealt with the so-called illegitimate children; the entire piece of legislation still exists. But you brought in an amendment that dealt with the issue of inheritance."

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NBC Digital News


Emil Seibeb