WINDHOEK - The Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi highlighted some of the achievements of the National Assembly and reminded the public about the mandate of the legislature when he held a press briefing yesterday ahead of the official opening of Parliament.
The official opening signals the resumption of business for Members of Parliament. The 2019 Parliament Session is centered on the theme, “Promoting integrity, accountability and professionalism”.
Katjavivi reiterated some of the functions of the legislature such as the oversight function and the role Parliament plays in participatory democracy.
He noted that in 2018, several Parliamentary committees undertook visits to the regions to investigate government projects and to conduct public hearings on pertinent issues such as gender-based violence (GBV) and teenage pregnancies as part of the oversight function.
“In 2018, several Parliamentary standing committees undertook visits to the regions to investigate government projects and conduct public hearings on items referred to them by the House. Some of the reports on these undertakings have already been tabled for the House’s consideration while others are still pending and would be tabled in 2019,” elaborated the Speaker.
Government owned entities such as Air Namibia, TransNamib and Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) were also probed.
Some of the reports emanating from these undertakings have been tabled for consideration, further stated Katajvivi.
The Speaker noted that Parliament also continues to participate in regional and international bodies as part of the global community. Some of these bodies include the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the International Parliamentary Union (IPU).
He also used the occasion to announce the arrival of a bus donated by China to the Parliament of Namibia for use in the latter’s outreach and oversight functions. The bus is likely to be unveiled shortly after the opening of Parliament.
Another area of importance to Katjavivi is transforming the Namibian Parliament into a paperless institution. He noted that the National Assembly will pilot its e-parliament concept by going digital this year. Katjavivi noted that Finland has already pledged to work together with the Namibian Parliament in digitizing the institution.
The two parliaments formed a friendship group when then Finnish Speaker Maria Lohela reciprocated and visited the Namibian Parliament in 2018, after Katjavivi’s visit to Finland a year earlier.
He also hailed the summarization of bills for ease of understanding for Members of Parliament as having played a critical role in increasing the participation and active involvement of lawmakers in last year’s session.
The National Assembly further launched its strategic plan, which Katjavivi described as an important tool for directing the institution. “In September, we launched a strategic plan.
“This is an important tool for us to be able to focus on our mandate and fulfill our obligation as elected representatives of the people, “said the Speaker.
The Speaker is further perturbed by persistent cases of GBV, noting that the National Assembly has been contemplating organizing an event involving all stakeholders that would culminate in a targeted training and action for identified stakeholders to be able to tackle this challenge.
As part of this, he cited the resolutions of a global summit to end sexual violence that took place in London in 2014, which he attended as a representative of Parliament, as a yardstick that could be used as part of possible mitigating measures.
“We would want identified stakeholders such as justice, the police, the gender ministry and others properly trained to be able to deal with victims and shame the perpetrators. Our reception centres for GBV victims should be upgraded to avoid subjecting already traumatised victims to further sufferings,” he proposed.
Over 20 bills were tabled and passed last year with 16 motions tabled and six adopted. Bills such as the Divorce Bill, Combating of Rape Amendment Act, Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority Bill and the Electronic Transactions Bill, forms part of over 16 bills lined up to be tabled during this year’s session.
* George Sanzila is Chief Information Officer at the National Assembly.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-12 10:49:34 5 months ago