WINDHOEK – Political Science lecturer at the University of Namibia, Ndumba Kamwanyah, has labeled lawmakers who abscond without reason from parliament-as well as those who merely show face and then disappear during proceedings- as “dishonest and dishonorable” individuals who must be recalled.
Namibians continue to watch helplessly how lawmakers continue to wantonly abscond from parliament without any consequences, and although the public has in the past called on parliament to make public the attendance register of lawmakers, these calls have fallen on unfertile grounds. Over the years members of parliament(MPs) have developed a tendency of merely registering their presence in the House , sit for a few minutes and then abscond from parliamentary proceedings. This transpired for the umpteenth time last week when absconding lawmakers in the National Assembly derailed the resumption of the reconsideration debate on the Public Enterprises Governance Bill which has been on the order for two weeks because the voting quorum could not be met.
Statistics obtained from officials at the NA reveal that last week Tuesday, 76 voting and seven non-voting members showed up for the first half of the session, while 19 members with voting powers were absent.
On Wednesday, 61 voting members and five non-voting members were present at commencement of the assembly while 34 MPs with decision-making powers were not in attendance.
Thursday saw 53 members with voting and four non-voting members pitching for the first half. The statistics at hand show that 42 politicians with voting rights were absent on the day.
Often, some MPs fail to return to the chamber after the tea break at 15h30. While it is conventional for lawmakers to walk out of the House as they please, Kamwanyah and critics alike have warned that such a trend starves the electorate of representation in the House.
“The electorate votes for people who must represent them to debate and discuss issues of national interest on their behalf, hence those MPs who abscond without good reason are trampling on the democracy of the voters,” he noted.
He added: “I am a lecturer at UNAM, but if I go to work in the morning just to register my presence, then I am clearly being dishonest to my employer.”
He also chastised lawmakers for adopting a nonchalant attitude towards their parliamentary duties.
“Most of these guys[MPs] do not put any effort into their work, you can hear it during discussions[sic]… they do not research, consult or bring substantive motions to the house…this shows that anyone can be an MP because it is not taxing at all, they forget that they are not there for themselves but for the people,” he lamented. Kamwanyah believes lawmakers get away with the culture of doing as they please because “of the reserved nature of the electorate who do not call for the recalling of MPs who do not perform”.
“This culture also boils down to the speaker because he is directly responsible to maintain order in the house. The fact that the house is overly-dominated by one party in which people think and act alike is also another contributing factor and it seems as if the speaker is more lenient towards his colleagues,” he said.
Kamwanyah said he sees no agents of change in the National Assembly when it comes to promoting respectable parliamentary etiquette.
Part of the reasons why the Swapo-dominated National Assembly in 2014 amended the National Constitution to increase the number of seats in the National Assembly from 78 to 104 was to curb the culture of debates and discussions being called off due to a lack of quorum.
The Namibian Constitution requires the presence of 49 MPs entitled to vote, other than the presiding officer.
– Additional reporting by Nampa
2019-04-10 08:51:50 11 days ago