… Geingob tells MPs in no-nonsense address
President Hage Geingob has strongly implored Swapo parliamentarians to stick to addressing issues in the National Assembly instead of resorting to personality clashes.
“It is your ultimate task to re-define the rules of engagement within the Namibian socio-economic and political context, to ensure that we effectively address the burning issue of economic freedom for the majority of our citizens,” Geingob said yesterday while addressing an induction workshop for Swapo MPs in Windhoek. “We have to level the economic playing field for all Namibians, so that all of them including the youth, women and men, equally benefit from the resources of our country, without anyone feeling left out, as is currently the case. We do not want you, as Swapo MPs, to go into parliament and prioritise non-issues or engage in personality clashes, while leaving pressing matters that are crucial to national development, unattended.” As the majority party in the National Assembly with 63 seats for MPs with voting rights, Geingob called on the members to set the agenda and lead parliamentary debates.
“You must set the tone and the agenda, and not allow others to do so! Don’t forget that the people and Swapo are watching you and should you fail to discharge your duties effectively, you may be re-called in the interest of the country and the Swapo Party. That’s how this system works,” Geingob added.
The head of state also asked party leaders to resign if they cannot toe the party line when openly disagreeing after a decision has been made in Cabinet. “A Cabinet member is absolutely responsible for and bound by the Cabinet decision regardless of whether he/she agrees with it or not. In case the dissenting member does not wish to be associated with the decision, the only alternative open to him/ her is to resign. Therefore, it is clear, if you are unable to toe the party line for whatever reason, you must resign,” he said. In a tongue-lashing address, Geingob also expressed disappointment with some MPs who allowed opposition parliamentarians to gain the upper hand in the chamber. “If one were to follow the proceedings of parliament without any prior information on the political landscape in Namibia, one would easily assume that the opposition is in charge. You have opposition parties with only two or one representative in parliament but they are exuding an air of confidence like they are in the majority,” Geingob fumed. “You must know that a majority representation is not effective if you don’t make that majority count. Therefore, you should not give the impression as if you have been defeated, by allowing political grand standers to dominate debates. I know that many of you, especially senior cadres, want to maintain a certain level of decorum but that is where the young cohorts should come in and provide counter responses to some of the derogatory rhetoric that originates from the opposition benches.” Referring to the much-publicised rant in the National Assembly involving opposition MP Bernadus Swartbooi who labelled Founding President Sam Nujoma a thug and liar, Geingob said party leaders should make use of their numbers in the August House to quell such abhorrent attacks. “It is precisely during those moments where our majority needs to count and where Swapo MPs should present a deafening, united and resonating voice, to quell such abhorrent attacks. Always present a united front and do not allow yourself to be divided. An attack on one member of the Swapo Party, even the most junior member, should be treated and repelled as an attack on the collective character and image of the entire Swapo Party.”