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Namibia: Protesters Set Deadline for Sioka’s Resignation

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Protesters demanding action from the government on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and femicide have set a deadline for the resignation of minister of gender equality, poverty eradication and social welfare minister Doreen Sioka.

Taking to the streets of Windhoek for another day of protesting on Thursday, a group of about 50 protesters again demonstrated at the gender equality ministry to seek engagement with Sioka as well as demand that she resign by 31 October.

This comes after an email sent to Sioka by the group requesting a meeting with her went unanswered, said Ndiilo Nthengwe, one of the activists.

Nthengwe said Sioka, during the closed-door meeting held with protesters, president Hage Geingob and other government officials at State House on Friday last week – offered to invite the group to her office for a discussion and to show them the work being done on SGBV.

“We decided to be proactive and sent an email [to her] ourselves following the State House meeting, so that she can now clarify the kind of programmes and activities she does under her ministry.

“So because she did not reply, we decided to go to her office again but this time to demand that she gives us the meeting there and then,” Nthengwe said.

Sioka and the gender equality ministry did not engage with the protesters on Thursday, though, and protesters then proceeded to send text messages to Sioka en masse to urge her to meet them outside the ministry’s head office, while also informing her of the 31 October deadline they had set for her resignation.

“The text messages were very tactful. We all sent out a text message and we will send out a reminder every day to let her know [… ] not just about resignation but for her to know and notice that we are unsatisfied with her leadership thus far,” Nthengwe said.

This is the second time the protesters took their demonstration to the gender ministry. They say this decision was sparked by an unsatisfactory response from the ministry regarding their demands.

“She is not putting in concerted efforts to make sure that she collaboratively works with stakeholders on how, for example, they can ensure that social workers do get recruited as soon as they graduate,” Nthengwe said. This is in relation to Sioka revealing last week that in Namibia, one social worker attends to 11 000 children.

“The Directorate of Gender at both head office, regional and constituency levels is understaffed which poses a challenge in managing programmes efficiently. [There is a] lack of technical capacity at both national and regional levels to deal with adult GBV cases,” Sioka said.

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