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Editorial - AWOL MPs should be penalised

2022-09-30  Staff Reporter

Editorial - AWOL MPs should be penalised

Parliamentarians repeatedly not showing up for work without a valid explanation should get the book thrown at them. 

Truant elected officials should be held to a higher standard. 

They work for the people. 

A mentally exhausted, financially drained people close to giving up hope. They want solutions for the myriad problems they were promised a way out of by the very MPs who now can’t be bothered to show up and make an effort. 

Namibians want jobs, land, houses, less violent crime, cheaper prices for food and other commodities, and they want their MPs to make their lives less difficult. They want their MPs to work for them.

While ordinary people have struggled through the pandemic, losing jobs and having their salaries and benefits cut, MPs have had it easy.

MPs are paid really well. The average MP makes around N$600 000 per year. On top of that, they receive more than generous benefits, and only work in parliament during certain periods of the year. They also don’t work Fridays and Mondays. 

Nice job, if you can get it. 

The average Namibian can just dream about living like this.

Yet, MPs don’t deliver.

These MPs have not worked for the people. 

Swapo’s MPs have all but abandoned their work for the people to embark on a campaign to get themselves a seat on the party’s powerful central committee and the top three during November’s congress. Swapo chief whip in the National Assembly Hambyuka Hamunyera has rebuked his party’s truant legislators, saying they are doing a disservice to the electorate. Others opted to pocket the generous travelling allowances for less important trips out of Windhoek and even abroad.

Out of the 64 Swapo MPs, only 14 of them, including Deputy Speaker Loide Kasingo, attended last Thursday’s parliamentary session. This resulted in the session being adjourned due to a lack of quorum.  

MPs from other parties have also ditched their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, important legislation remains stuck in the pipeline, including the combating of rape amendment bill, the combating of domestic violence amendment bill, the divorce bill and the child justice bill. Some of these bills have had to be tabled repeatedly, and still did not pass through the sausage maker. Mostly because MPs could not get themselves to sit down and do their work, or party whips are not skilled enough to make parliament’s work continue smoothly.

Politicians are fond of lecturing the public from their bully pulpits, and shout about working hard to whoever is willing to listen. Meanwhile, their work ethic has been in question. They’ve been skiving off. 

The National Assembly has the dubious honour of only clearing eight out of an expected 20 bills in the past two years.

A horrendous record, regardless of what the mitigating circumstances may be. Namibia’s National Assembly has, therefore, a 40% pass record.  

That should be a fail mark.

And it is not just their absenteeism. 

The level of debate in the National Assembly has been nothing less than dire. It is clear that most MPs hardly prepare for debates. Interjections are ill-conceived, puerile and mostly contribute nothing substantial to the topic at hand. MPs from both sides of the aisle have turned the hallowed house into a laughing stock akin to a kindergarten playground. 

Those who have abandoned their work should be deducted money for the days they have not bothered to turn up. 

2022-09-30  Staff Reporter

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