Katjavivi concerned by delayed petition responses

Martin Endjala

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi expressed concern over the continued delays in responding to petitions by parliamentarians, labelling the situation as worrisome.

Katjavivi highlighted this issue during his budget motivation speech last week in parliament, emphasizing that most petitions submitted to the National Assembly do not receive timely feedback.

“We must continue to explore the speedy expedition of petitions, including the transmission of petitions directly to the relevant Standing Committee. Pursuant to the democratic culture of our parliamentary system, members introduced and extensively debated 41 motions on issues of their particular interest,” the Speaker urged.

Six petitions were received from citizens and groups that resulted in extensive public consultations and hearings by relevant standing committees last year.

Katjavivi also provided an overview of parliamentary activities during the period under review, highlighting the tabling and passage of bills, the adoption of international instruments, and the handling of petitions and reports.

Similarly, 106 reports of the Auditor-General were tabled and referred to the Public Accounts Committee for further scrutiny, whereas 10 annual and ministerial reports were tabled.

He also discussed the finalization and launch of the Strategic Plan for 2023-2027, which aims to set the strategic direction for the National Assembly.

Katjavivi further addressed the ongoing efforts to establish the Parliamentary Service Commission.

These efforts have been ongoing since 1995 with the appointment of the all-party parliamentary groups which culminated in the ‘Agenda for Change’.

“I am pleased to report that the draft Bill is now in its final stages. Members of the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders have been briefed through the draft Bill and we receive some proposals that have been incorporated. The chairperson of the National Council and I will brief the Head of State next week and once everything is finalized, I am positive that the draft Bill will be tabled in this house after the May recess,” he said.

The National Assembly was allocated N$196 million for the 2024/25 financial year.

This Katjavivi said will enable parliament to improve its security measures by acquiring and installing security equipment and systems.

“We will continue with the acquisition and installation of security equipment and systems to ensure Members of Parliament and staff members continue to perform their work in a safe and secure environment,” he said.

Katjavivi also pointed out challenges faced by the National Assembly, including the ageing fleet of vehicles and the impact of a moratorium on purchasing new vehicles, which Katjavivi said has hindered its ability to function efficiently.

“It is vital that this issue is revisited in order to avoid compromising the work of the National Assembly,” said Katjavivi.

The issue of delayed petition responses has drawn criticism from various quarters, with members of parliament, including Henny Seibeb of the Landless People’s Movement party (LPM), voicing strong opposition.

This situation saw opposition parties boycotting the sessions blaming the Swapo party member’s absence from the house.

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