Lüderitz renaming misunderstood: Shanghala

WINDHOEK NAMPA Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC) chairperson Sacky Shanghala says the uproar over the Lüderitz/!Nami#Nus renaming is all "a storm in a teacup" as the whole issue has been misunderstood. Speaking to Nampa on Friday, Shanghala said only the Lüderitz Constituency has been renamed to !Nami#Nus, adding that the town gets to keep its name. President Hifikepunye Pohamba announced earlier this month at State House that Namibia now has 14 regions, while 14 new constituencies have been created and two regions and two constituencies renamed. Pohamba announced that the Kavango Region will be split into two regions, namely Kavango East and Kavango West, while the Caprivi Region will be renamed the Zambezi Region and the Karas Region changes to //Karas Region. The Head of State also announced that the Lüderitz Constituency has been renamed to !Nami#Nus Constituency, which was the original name of that area, while the Steinhausen Constituency has been renamed Okarukambe Constituency. It now appears as if the President's statement on the name change may have been misunderstood. "I have accepted the commission's recommendation that Lüderitz Constituency be renamed !Nami#Nus Constituency which was the original name of the area. This includes the current town of Lüderitz," the Head of State said while making the announcement. The news of the name change has drawn strong opposition from residents of Lüderitz, with many feeling they were not consulted before the decision was made. Local English daily The Namibian also reported on Thursday that the legality of the name change might be challenged. The report said human rights lawyer Clement Daniels, who himself hails from Lüderitz, said the President and the Delimitation Commission acted beyond their powers as they did not have the power to rename the town. Clearing up the confusion on behalf of the government, Shanghala said the President and the Delimitation Commission acted in conformity with the law and there is nothing wrong with their decisions. "It is surprising, and shocking actually, that lawyers are issuing legal opinions without reference to the Proclamation itself," he said. He explained that the commission and President are empowered, during the period of appointment of the Delimitation Commission, to recommend new regions and constituencies, along with new names. He further added that old constituencies and regions may be re-aligned (boundary-wise), removed, added and more. "The President can accept the recommendations and then gazette by proclamation his decisions which come into effect for the next elections for those constituencies. For instance the new region will only be relevant for the next elections. So are the new name changes," Shanghala pointed out. The only area he highlighted where both the President and the Delimitation Commission do not have powers is the commission's process to change the names of towns before stating that in the first place, the Proclamation issued by the President does not make any reference to the changing of the town's name at all. "The constituency named Lüderitz is the one being addressed. It is therefore a storm in a teacup, fabricated to keep fickle minds engaged, that the President has changed the name of Lüderitz," he stated. Reports carried by The Namibian newspaper last week had it that Presidential Affairs Minister and Attorney-General Albert Kawana admitted that the government had not yet finalised the renaming of the town. Kawana however rejected claims that the President has no powers to change town names, saying the President is yet to complete the renaming of the town by scheduling an amendment of two Acts, namely the Local Authorities Act and the Township and Division of Land Ordinance Act, in order to rename the town. "That is yet to be done, and it is receiving the highest attention from the drafters," Kawana was quoted as saying.

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