By Confidente Reporter
PRESIDENT Hage Geingob was reportedly disappointed with the way Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana allegedly pushed the legislature to pass the Citizenship Bill in order to beat today’s deadline by the Supreme Court for Government to grant citizenship rights to a child born in Namibia by a Dutch couple.
Geingob has thus subsequently directed his Home Affairs Minister to comply with the Supreme Court ruling to grant citizenship to the child, with Cabinet having rejected the Citizenship Bill in its deliberations on Tuesday.
“The government will comply with the Supreme Court order in the said judgment and the Minister of Home Affairs will issue a birth certificate as directed. The government fully respects the Constitution as the supreme law of the country and acting within the confines of the Constitution remains seized with the matter, to monitor the situation, and if need be, will consult widely with the view of seeking a long term solution to deal with issues of this nature in future,” reads part of a Cabinet document.
Confidente is reliably informed that the President was worried about how Iivula- Ithana had allegedly trampled on the country’s Constitution in her bid to pass the law so as to avoid granting citizenship to a child born in Namibia to Dutch parents that are in the country on work permits. An impeccable source close to Cabinet told Confidente that the head of State said that it had taken him four years to get Namibian citizenship for his children who were born in America, and wondered how the latest court ruling by Deputy Chief Justice Petrus Damaseb could be an inconvenience to the Constitution’s stability. One of the things the President reportedly questioned is how Iivula-Ithana was allegedly involved in the comments regarding awarding of citizenship to Shiloh Jolie-Pitt whose famous parents are Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt which turned out not to be true.
Confidente understands that Iivula- Ithana on a local television channel said that Angelina Jolie is a permanent resident hence Shiloh was granted citizenship but findings revealed that Angelina does not have permanent residence status.
The Jolie-Pitts instead have honorary citizenship which exposes the Minister.
“The Minister made a statement last night (Monday) on One Africa and stated that Angelina Jolie is a permanent resident that’s why her child got citizenship which everyone knows it’s not true. Jolie flew in, gave birth and left. That’s great discrimination against other people. The President after Cabinet read the judgment and also consulted on the Minister’s actions and saw how unconstitutional it is and he had to intervene,” reliable sources said. The incident appear to paint a picture as though Namibia has become an unconstitutional country. Iivula-Ithana when contacted said, “The issue with Angelina Jolie came up a long time ago. I did not issue Angelina with anything. She was to come to Namibia in April or May and there were arrangements to be made. I had to investigate what was really going on. I was told by my officials that she (Angelina) is a permanent resident. Who am I to think they are lying?” Iivula-Ithana said. The Supreme Court in its judgment by Deputy Chief Justice Damaseb found that a child born in Namibia to non-Namibian parents who fall in the constitutional category of being ordinarily resident in Namibia would be entitled to Namibian citizenship by birth. He said that the term “ordinarily resident” as used in the Constitution cannot be equated to a requirement that non-Namibian parents of a child born in Namibia need to have permanent residence in the country before their child would be entitled to Namibian citizenship by birth. Iivula-Ithana’s Bill that was recently introduced in the National Assembly sought to change the Namibian Citizenship Act to exclude children of non- Namibian parents who live in Namibia on temporary permits from being entitled to Namibian citizenship by birth, and also change the law to state that children born in Namibia to non-Namibian parents would only be entitled to Namibian citizenship if their parents had permanent residence in the country.
The National Assembly speedily approved the Bill before referring it to the National Council for consideration.
The National Council in turn tasked a select committee for wider consultations on the constitutionality of the proposed change to the law. The select committee Confidente reliably learnt fears that should the Minister have her way, it means the Constitution will have to be amended.
The select committee found that the Bill will ultimately mean that Namibia is moving away from being a Constitutional Democracy to a Parliamentary Democracy in which Parliament has the final say. The select committee also found that Article 81 not only makes provision for Parliament to contradict a ruling of the Supreme Court, but requires that such contradiction be made by means of a lawfully enacted Act of Parliament. “The Bill to be passed therefore still has to comply with the provisions of the Constitution to be regarded as lawfully enacted. Had the ruling of the court been based on the interpretation of an Act of Parliament the Bill may have succeeded lawfully although it would still have the effect of undermining the role and independence of the judiciary,” read part of the committee’s findings. The committee said that the court ruling is based on an interpretation of the Constitution and not an Act of Parliament. “Implications involved is that the Constitution still provides for ordinarily resident in Article 4 (1) and permanent residence in Article 4 (8), which would still indicate that the drafters of the Constitution were aware not only of the existence of the two separate terms, but also the distinct different meanings attached to them.” “Therefore the definition within the Bill of ordinarily resident would fail against the Constitution and is thus unconstitutional. One cannot change the meaning of a word within the Constitution by passing an Act of Parliament, the Constitution is still supreme and the Bill must still comply with the Constitution. If the term ordinarily resident is to be defined, it can therefore only be done by means of amending the Constitution itself.”
Other implications of the Bill had it succeeded would undermine the role of the courts, particularly the Supreme Court which has been entrusted with constitutional interpretations. “The Bill will further breach the separation of powers by its interference in the work of the Judiciary and will do so in violation of Article 78 which provides for the independence of the courts, subject only to the Constitution and the law.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015