Legal Assistance Centre in deep water

Irene-Mari van der Walt
The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) said that they are not able to accept any new applications for legal representation.
The organisation is in deep water due to the World Bank’s rating of Namibia, says LAC director Tony Hancox.
The World Bank did not reclassify Namibia’s economic status into a lower middle-income country after it recently updated its country classification by income level for 2022-23.
Although the World Bank reclassified Namibia as an upper middle-income country in 2009, with per capita income peaking at US$6 370 in 2015, the country has over the years called for a reclassification amid concerns that the current classification is inaccurate.
President Hage Geingob has consistently warned that the current classification has serious consequences for Namibia’s access to affordable debt financing and grants, affecting its ability to tackle poverty and inequality.
“The LAC depends on foreign financial donations, but now the LAC no longer receives donations due to Namibia’s status with the World Bank, even though the country experiences some of the worst inequalities. Donors also face challenges. One donor withdrew their funding to instead invest it in the refugee crisis in Ukraine, which is, of course, commendable,” Hancox said.
However, the LAC has not withdrawn completely - those who urgently need legal advice can use the LAC’s helpline. “The helpline offers legal advice on certain issues and refers customers to relevant service providers where possible,” Hancox explained.
However, “this means that needy people will not receive legal aid. The LAC does not have enough money to assist everyone who needs it. We will continue to pass on as much helpful information to the public as possible.”
Hancox says the LAC is currently trying to find new sources of income. “We are reaching out to Namibian businesses to include us in their portfolio for corporate social responsibility portfolios.”