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Friedrich Ebert celebrates 25

From closest to farthest are Mr Heiner Naumann, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Resident Representative; Prof. Peter Katjavivi, Swapo Chief Whip; Mr Onno Hückmann, German Ambassador, Prof (Emeritus) André du Pisani; Mr Barney Karuuombe, Electoral Commissioner; Mr Phanuel Kaapama, UNAM lecturer and Mr Immanuel Mwilima, Master of Ceremonies.

An important development driver and foreign aid agent, the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, this week celebrated its 25 years dedicated to the development of the country and its people. The commemorative evening revolved around three presentation, replique, and a book launch. The presentations were made by Prof. André Du Pisani, previously of UNAM, Mr Heiner Naumann, the foundation’s Resident Representative and Mr Barney Karuuombe from the Electoral Commission.

The new book that was launched, is titled “Working for Social Democracy in Namibia.” The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung support, amongst other, the activities of the Media Ombudsman. Proffessor Du Pisani, an emeritus professor at the University of Namibia, is also chairperson of the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology. He took the audience back to the roots of the commission and pointed out the shortcoming in the legislation as well as in the commission’s functioning. In his presentation, Proffessor Du Pisani first discussed the tension between academic freedom and politics, then he unravelled the legal intricacies of the new Science Commission, and finally, a lengthy appraisal of the value of so-called think thanks, some of which resort under the overarching label, NGO. The learned professor quipped “based on my own extensive personal experience with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, I am happy to conclude that the latter has consistently operated within a clearly defined mandate and with due consideration of the common good. My very latest engagement with the [foundation] is as a member of a global reflection group that engages with conceptual seams and policy-relevant trans-continental research”. Summarising his point of view, du Pisani said “matters of academic freedom, as I said at the outset, invoking Mill [the philospher], do concern the legitimate limits of the State and administrative bodies such as the National Council for Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) in relation to the freedom of the individual.” “If a competent Court finds grounds for concern in the 2004 Act, the 2011 Regulations and in the way that the NCRST administers the provisions of these legal instruments, then indeed there would be grounds for deep concern and for undertaking a comprehensive review of the Act and the Regulations. Since academic freedom is one of the prerequisites for personal integrity, democracy, research, scholarship and an informed citizenry, the NCRST would welcome and respect the tenor of any legal opinion provided by a competent court.”

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