By Staff reporter
The Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma paid a two day visit in the country on August 1, as part of his Southern African tour, which also took him to Botswana and Swaziland.
Sharma was accompanied by Director and Head of the Secretary-General’s Office Simon Gimson, Political Advisor, Martin Kasirye and Southern Africa Advisor, Janet Kathyola, and Julius Mucunguzi, Communication Officer.
The objective of the trip was to determine first hand how the Commonwealth can strengthen and deepen its cooperation and partnership with Namibia.
Speaking at a press briefing, Sharma indicated that the Commonwealth remains committed to Namibia in its path of democracy, development and respect for diversity, which are all the pillars of the Commonwealth.
Sharma said “Namibia is an active and valued member of the Commonwealth family and has made important contributions to the association since joining in 1990. My objective was to take some direction on the Commonwealth’s reform and renewal.”
Upon his arrival in Windhoek, Sharma and his delegation visited the Supreme Court chambers where they were received by Chief Justice Peter Shivute, before heading off to the state house to have private talks President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Sharma also held talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Utoni Nujoma, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, Electoral Commission Chairperson Notemba Tjipueja and Rally for Democracy and Progress Hidipo Hamutenya.
“I am appraised by President Pohamba on the current situation in respect of the reform programme of the Commonwealth.
Sharma said the essence of these reforms is to sharpen the impact, strengthen the networks and raise the profile of the Commonwealth, and to achieve greater practical commitment to shared 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles.
“This builds on the Harare principles and other Commonwealth declarations. The Affirmation includes a strong commitment to our shared values as well as to our principles embracing inclusiveness and transparency,”
Sharma noted that Namibia is also a substantial partner under the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation. The collaboration includes ongoing assistance through national projects for public debt management using Commonwealth debt management software.
“The software supports the aquaculture sector for improved freshwater fishing. Enterprise development and support the customer service in the tourism sector,”
Under the Commonwealth partnership, Sharma said Namibia as an active member of the Commonwealth Electoral Network, the platform will bring the members together to discuss and promote best practices.
“Share knowledge and experiences and create partnership. The objective is to advance the highest electoral standards through peer exchanges and support.
Sharma reiterated that the Commonwealth will also continue to support the office of the Ombudsman, avail the services of the Commonwealth trade advisers to assist Namibia develop sound trade.
Namibia will also be assisted by Commonwealth experts in dealing with local government reforms, and its technical assistance to assist the country to reform its Electricity board to help make it a more effective regulator.
Sharma concluded that the Commonwealth will strengthen its assistance to the country, in close coordination with other development partners, in a number of areas, such as the Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Organisation, Parliament and Judicial systems.