Reinvented Commonwealth seeks to restore relevance for member countries
The relevance of the Commonwealth for the Namibia state was vividly demonstrated when the organisation’s Secretary General, Ms Patricia Scotland earlier this week presided over an educational forum organised by the University of Namibia, and then a day later, met the Namibian President, HE Dr Hage Geingob.
In a meeting at State House, Geingob said a reinvigorated Commonwealth secretariat would allow the organisation to continue its role of serving the 52 member countries. He also commended Scotland for honouring her earlier commitment to visit Namibia. Scotland presented Geingob with a copy of the Commonwealth Charter, the principles of which the President said he supports.
Citing the Commonwealth secretariat’s efforts to streamline the organisation’s operation, the President said this served as a model for all Commonwealth countries, including Namibia where government is faces with the tangible problem of reducing its own wage bill.
During their discussion, the President and the Secretary General raised various issues pertaining to justice, to trade and to climate change.
Geingob mentioned that the Commonwealth secretariat has now launched the Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform which will provide clear, fair and effective legal frameworks for member countries. The Secretary General in turn stated that the justice reform office is part of her vision to “create the highest standards for good ethical practice and integrity which will encourage more investment into key sectors of the economy.”
Other areas that Namibia needs support and guidance from the secretariat include economic diversification, an inclusive growth model, tackling youth unemployment and a reduction in infant and child mortality.
Scotland observed that Namibia is playing a leading role in managing climate change in particular as it was one of the first countries to sign the Paris Agreement. In this regard, the secretariat has developed a so-called regenerative model of development which includes new technologies to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through waste reduction and renewable energy.
Finally, Geingob assured Scotland that he remains committed to gender equality, demonstrated by the balance in the Namibian cabinet, which includes a female Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. The President also mentioned the challenges around gender violence, stating that it will be dealt with robustly. He accepted the Secretary General’s invitation to become a Commonwealth champion on this issue because of his vision to eliminate gender violence.
The meeting was also attended by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations & Cooperation, the Minister for Higher Education and other senior government officials.