All Eyes on Parliament as it resumes tomorrow

Martin Endjala

A well known political commentator has urged parliamentarians to behave in a respectable manner in Parliament and to refrain from turning the house into chaos with inflamatory personal insults this year.

The National Assembly in particular, could not finish its scheduled work last year, as motions could not be attended to due to unending confrontations between political parties in the house.

The question is whether we are going to see a repeat of last year’s unproductive interruptions, during this year of Reimaging?

Henning Melber, political analyst, told Windhoek Observer that he hopes that MPs will show the measured conduct which is associated with the term “august house”, when the Parliament resumes tomorrow. “I would assume in the light of last year’s rough scenes that President Geingob will repeat one of his mantras to focus on the ball and not the player, meaning a political debate which tackles the issues without defamation or hurling personal insults. This is an appeal which should be followed by all parties” he said.

Melber pointed out that Namibia needs an effective Parliament that contributes to good governance by drafting and adopting legislation efficiently.

Strengthening of parliamentary democracy is paramount, more than an exchange of words derailing subject related differences into mudslinging, Melber said.

He also alluded that opposing ideas and programmes should be done constructively and convincingly by sharing different approaches and “engaging the dominant party in exchanges improving governance in the interest of the ordinary people, who are after all the electorate and deserve representation seeking their wellbeing”.

According to Melber, the courtesy state visit by LPM leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb to President Hage Geingob last week was a step in the right direction. The visit, he said, demonstrates willingness to enter into dialogue over matters in which there are policy differences.

“To agree to disagree can happen in decent forms,” he shares.

Melber further touched on topical issues he thinks should be debated about such as Covid 19 pandemic related challenges, but also the continued differences over the German-Namibian Joint Declaration and how to deal with the genocide.

As the debates in October/November in parliament showed, “there is a deep rift between the government and the opposition as regards to this subject” he said.

The National Assembly needs to become a forum for informed debate based on facts. President Geoingob should seek to set a constructive tone along these lines, with modesty and all-embracing appeal and void of complacency – setting the agenda for frank but respectful exchange. It will then be for all MPs to live up to such standards, if only to strengthen their credibility that they act in the best interest of those who elected them, to promote their wellbeing” Melber advised.

When asked about opposition parties accusing the Speaker of the National Assembly of bias, Melber stated that “it is difficult to not have a speaker who is biased, given that she/he is from the majority party. And that it would require a tremendous degree of integrity and the willingness to make oneself very unpopular within the own party ranks, to steer a neutral course without fear or favor’’.

Ndumba Kamwenyah, another political analyst, told Windhoek Observer, that the National Assembly during its current session should tackle pertinent issues facing the country.

Kamwenyah would like to see urgent critical bills that were not tabled last year be revisited this year.

As much as Covid-19 played a huge factor in the unproductivity and inactivity of parliament for the better part of the year, Kamwenyah insisted that it is important that parliamentarians do their job and engage in meaningful debates.

When asked about issues that should be revisited, Kamwenyah stated the land issue and genocide were the two issues that are still unresolved.

He also does not want to see a repeat of infightting among MPs, as for parties to conduct themselves in a manner that befits the house.

In terms of the performance rate of the National Assembly in 2021, Kamwenyah said the Speaker to some extent is to be blamed for the poor execution of work of the house.

“All that transpired was rightfully under his leadership and for that reason, his performance is a reflection of that of the August house,’’

The Speaker must manage the house better and must be neutral at all times, he said.

The All Peoples’ Party (APP) Secretary General Vicent Kanyetu, told Windhoek Observer, that he expects more work to be done and healthy debates to be maintained.

He urged MPs to show respect to each other, as they all have been entrusted by the voters to lead the Namibian people.

Kanyetu was quick to point out that, “It is very saddening and revolting to hear, read or see on television MP’s drowsing in the house, when they are supposed to be partaking in critical decisions of bills to be passed that concerns the nation’’.

Kanyetu called on the Speaker, Professor Peter Katjavivi to be impartial during this session to make Namibia a better place for everyone.

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