Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has called on incoming members of parliament (MPs) to consider electing an opposition member as deputy speaker, saying this will strengthen democracy.
“In other democracies and politics of the world, the speakership is shared by the opposition and the ruling party. If you look at our parliament we have after 30 years of our independence, deputy speakers and speakers come from the ruling party,” Venaani said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“It is high time the ruling party MPs consider giving the opposition the deputy speakership, not to PDM per se but any member of the opposition – we want to see the deputy speakership in the hands of the minority parties – it is key to us,” he added.
Venaani says other countries such as Ghana, Egypt and many other democracies around the world have moved away from speakers being dominated by the ruling party and it is time the ruling Swapo party followed suit.
“What we have been experiencing over the last five years, speakers are always working in the interest of the ruling party and the control of the house in the hands of the ruling party – and the opposition has no say in terms of the robust debate in the house,” he said.
“We are calling upon ruling party to come to their sense to see that is no longer acceptable for our parliamentary democracy to be in the hands of one political party; we want to see a time where a deputy speaker comes from minority parties in order to balance political forces and to make sure parliament works in proper interest of society,” he added. Newly elected MPs are expected to be sworn today at 09h00 in the National Assembly Chamber, Parliament Building.
A media statement by parliament public relations officer David Nahongandja yesterday advised MPs to attend alone and not to bring any accompanying person – be it spouses, relatives or friends – to mitigate overcrowding.
“Members of the public are NOT allowed to attend this event. This measure is meant to keep the number of attendees to the lowest possible level because of Covid-19,” read the statement.
Following their affirmation today, MPs are also expected to elect a speaker of National Assembly, as well as a deputy speaker. Chief Justice Shivute is expected to preside over these proceedings.
MPs will be called to stand in front of the podium in groups and with a raised right hand and say the oath in English.
The MPs also have a choice to swear an oath before God or make a solemn affirmation, depending on their religious beliefs.