Louise Shixwameni, the widow of late parliamentarian Ignatius Shixwameni, has vowed to honour her husband by equipping parliament with a life-saving device as well as crucial first aid training.
This is after fellow MPs and parliament staff watched on haplessly as her husband collapsed and later died while on duty.
The All People’s Party (APP) leader died in Windhoek on 10 November 2021 at the age of 55 while attending a parliamentary standing committee meeting. Louise, whose tribute was delivered on her behalf at the state memorial service of the late Shixwameni in Rundu on Friday, revealed that two parliamentarians confided in her that they could not assist the late opposition leader due to their lack of first aid training.
“Two of the parliamentarians came to my home to tell me how sorry they were, and how broken they were to witness his passing. They were shattered and told me: ‘Meme, we are very sorry. We did not know what to do. None of us is trained on first aid nor on resuscitating a heart’. So, they did not know what to do,” she told mourners.
According to her, there are no continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines at parliament, and this is a concern.
CPAP is a treatment that uses mild air pressure to keep your breathing airways open. Therefore, she pledged to procure a CPAP machine to ensure no parliamentarian dies in the line of duty. “I, therefore, want to promise parliament today that I will take it upon myself in the honour of my husband to ensure that no member of parliament will die in the House. I will donate a CPAP machine to parliament, and will work with organisations and institutions to ensure that all parliamentarians are trained in first aid,” Shixwameni said. The widow further pledged to champion and advocate for first aid training to be introduced in all institutions in the country, adding that parliamentarians should enact a law which will compel organisations to introduce such training to save the lives of Namibians during emergencies.
Additionally, she stressed that all stakeholders should work together to assist the government in ensuring that everyone’s life is valued. Shixwameni described her husband as a unifier, and an inclusive and humble leader who stood by his principles of making Namibia a better place.
David Nahogandja, the spokesperson of the National Assembly, confirmed to this reporter that parliament has not trained parliamentarians on first aid, but that only committee clerks are trained in that area. “The National Assembly (NA) has not provided first aid training to members of parliament.
We also have a wellness committee in place, which raises awareness on health matters amongst the parliament community,” Nahogandja noted. Furthermore, parliament does not have medical personnel and equipment to attend to emergencies of members of parliament and staff members. He, however, pointed out that parliament has been making progress since 2018 to set up a clinic, but a lack of resources and the impact of Covid-19 has halted these efforts.
“As we speak, a room has been allocated for the clinic but due to Covid-19, the establishment of a parliamentary clinic is on hold as human and material resources such as nurses and materials are needed to operate such a clinic,” he added.
Parliament views the establishment of the parliamentary clinic as critical. So far, one member of the National Assembly and another from the National Council died while one MP collapsed at the parliament precinct, according to Nahogandja.