LEGISLATION lays the platform to a functioning democracy and paves the way for real social and business growth while ensuring peace, harmony and prosperity for a country.

Namibia has won many accolades of good governance from different international institutions and continues to be applauded as a shining democracy in Africa yet the country still has some laws crafted at the commencement and during the height of colonialism.

Against this backdrop, the country has seen the need to reform and develop a well crafted legal system that ensures accessibility to each and every citizen while at the same time ensuring that the laws are responsive to the needs of society.

For six years, President Hifikepunye Pohamba sought a suitable candidate to lead the Law Reform and Development Commission (LRDC), an organisation carrying the mammoth task of crafting legislation and reforming statutes and found the man in Sacky Shanghala.

Shanghala who juggled his roles between being an employee of the Attorney General’s office and as Deputy Chairperson of the Magistrate Commission recently became first full time Chairman of the LRDC in six years.

The Law Reform and Development Commission researches on any issues relating to any law in Namibia and makes recommendations on the reform and development of such.

Its recommendations can include, inter alia, advice on the repeal of unnecessary laws in force in Namibia, on international law obligations and on new or more effective procedures for the administration of law and the dispensing of justice.

While for many, getting an opportunity to contribute to changing the country`s legal landscape would be the climax of their careers in the legal profession, Shangala believes it to be a mere service to the public.

He views his new position as challenging and in need of public involvement in order to give Namibia the required consensus platform for legal reform and development.

‘’I have worked in the public sector since I was 20 and I am one person who wants to know everything about what I do. There are obviously immediate challenges that come with this job. Some of the challenges include making the law accessible to the public and how to help the ordinary folk country understand the law,’’ he says.

So how does Shanghala view the implementation of laws crafted during the colonial era, twenty one years on?

He intends craft laws that would do away with such obsolete laws crafted during the said period and in particular those that describe locals as natives.

“We need to come up with laws that also support the need for social and economic emancipation and also do away with descriptive words like Black Economic Empowerment (BEE). Lets concern ourselves with the content first,’’ he adds.

As if the challenge of helping the public understand law and reform the country’s legal system is not enough, Shanghala says the country is also handicapped by lack of financial and human resources in the legal fraternity.

“We do not have resources - both human and financial - to drive the department so my challenge would be to expose to training the staff I have, at the same time ensuring that the department has enough manpower to tilt the country’s legal landscape. We also do not have an office of our own and are still working from the Ministry of Justice building.”

One would be mistaken to judge Shanghala from his soft voice as he has the heart of a lion, not scared of making enemies and eager to absorb the pressure of reforming the law and at the same time advising the Minister of Justice, when called upon to do so.

Shanghala adds that the task of ensuring a well crafted legal system that satisfies the needs of every Namibian would not be his own prerogative but that public-private consultation would do well to achieve the task at hand.

‘’My role involves dealing with conflicts that may arise when legislation is being mooted. This (conflict) might emanate from either the lawmakers or private sector but I will not shy away from topical or ‘sensitive’ issues for as long it is in the public interest,’’ Shanghala says.

In his mid- 30s, Shangala describes himself as “a patriot and anything that threatens Namibia is an enemy to me. I believe in being straight forward and I want to do things the right way’’.

Because of the complex nature of his new role, Shanghala has begun the process of resigning from director’s positions in companies he has been involved before his appointment as the Act states that the chairperson of the Commission may not engage in any other paid jobs while serving the LRDC.

A Unam graduate, his classmates at law school included well known personalities like legal practitioners Sisa Namandje, Natasha Bassingthwaighte and businesswoman Monica Kalondo.

An aide to former Prime Minister Hage Geingob, Shanghala’s argument is that the country is not doing enough to emancipate and empower its people in business as the means of production are still in the hands of a few.

“Today is time for radical social and economic change. Yet I ask you to curiously ponder: What is our economic policy as a country? How do we bring out those that are left out of the economic order, and are living off remittals from the first economy, and say to them, this is our plan for you to realise what the Namibian constituion under Article 98 (1) states?:

‘The economic order of Namibia shall be based on the principles of a mixed economy with the objective of securing economic growth, prosperity and a life of human diginity for all Namibians.’

“We as Namibians have reconciled and we had to do it at a price. We have to look at the law and see if enough is being done to create opportunities for the locals. Imagine a poor man washing cars and trying to take care of his family being arrested and prosecuted. Why? Is it in the public interest? Can’t the municipality assist and formalise car washers’ operations? I honestly think enough is not being done,’’ he says.

He believes his role cuts across the political divide and he has begun meeting stakeholders in traditional authorities, regional and local government as well as industry representative bodies, consulting on how his office would help them implement the law.

Shanghala also talks of a Prosecution Code and cooperation from members of the public in issues that affect them including the thorny land issue.

It is also within his hands to help craft legislation that deals with social issues in cognisant of the regional bloc of Southern African Development Community (sadc).

This is the first time Namibia has had a full time chairperson of the LRDC in more than six years and the long serving special advisor to the Attorney General has a lot to work on for the next five years.

The current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Uutoni Nujoma, was the last full time chairperson of the LRDC before he was promoted to the National Assembly in 2004.

Other members of the new Commission are the Ombudsman, John Walters, lawyers Dianne-Hubbard, Nixon Marcus, Ray Rukoro, Unam Law lecturer Fritz Nghiishililwa, Michael Frindt, Dameline Muroko, Raywood Rukoro and Commission Secretary Tousy Namiseb. PF