Albertina Nakale Windhoek-National Assembly Speaker, Professor Peter Katjavivi, who has previously been accused of brushing aside motions, says he is concerned by MPs who ask lengthy questions that are so long they are like statements. “I would like to inform you that from today onwards, the business in this House regarding questions will follow Rules 89 to 91 of the standing rules and orders, dealing with both oral or written questions and as to whether they are urgent or not. As the presiding officer, I will strictly adhere to these rules, in scrutinising the questions in terms of these rules,” he announced. This comes days after Swanu Member of Parliament, Usutuaije Maamberua, has accused Katjavivi of aligning with the members of the ruling Swapo Party instead of being objective on motions raised. The Namibian newspaper reported last week that over 50 Swapo lawmakers shot down a proposed debate on the issue of ancestral land and a demand for the list of all beneficiaries under the government’s resettlement programme. Swapo stopped Swanu from tabling the motion of land under the government’s resettlement programme meant for previously disadvantaged Namibians. When Katjivivi intervened, he directed that parliamentarians vote to decide whether to allow the topic to go ahead or not. Therefore, over 50 Swapo MPs voted for the topic to be shelved, while 10 opposition party MPs supported Maamberua. Just a day after the event, Katjavivi announced in Parliament the format of questions and responses in the House. He said some questions have particularly been of concern to him, as the presiding officer, because in many instances they have contravened the rules of the House. “In our meeting in standing rules and orders this morning, some members felt that linked to these concerns is the issue of how the executive responds to the questions raised on the floor of the House,” Katjavivi told MPs. He said he has noted questions, whether oral or written, in some cases have become cumbersome and long to the point where the members make statements in the form of “a preamble”, before the actual questions are asked. In terms of Rule 87 (a) read with Rule 91, a member who requests to ask an urgent question must motivate why it is urgent. In this case, Katjavivi said he will then rule on its urgency and the member may proceed if leave is granted to continue. In terms of Rule 91, the question must be precise and to the point. However, he says, if from his assessment, the question is not deemed urgent, the member will be requested to put his or her question in writing for the next sitting. In terms of Rule 90 (d) where the member is not going to be present and wants another member to ask the question on his or her behalf, that member must give written permission that the member present is acting in his absence. On the responses from the executive, he said, they too are required to be explicit and to the point in responding to the members’ questions. “Of course, it goes without saying that courtesy on both sides and respect for the rules of the House should be observed and much appreciated,” said Katjavivi.
2017-09-28 10:14:47 11 months ago