Namibian MPs must step up

12 April 2019 | Opinion

A number of parliamentarians have been hogging the headlines this week and for all the wrong reasons. Apart from being accused of not taking parliamentary debates seriously, some MPs have also been accused of absconding from the chamber. Reports this week indicated that some National Assembly MPs were leaving halfway through the sessions, leaving too few members to constitute a quorum for voting on motions and other pressing issues brought before the August House. Nampa reported this week 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 the commencement of the assembly, while 34 MPs with decision-making powers were absent. Thursday saw 53 members with voting powers and four non-voting members turning up for the first half of the session. This is surely not a good record to be proud given the important task that parliamentarians ought to fulfill, including reforming the laws of the country. The conduct of MPs is counterproductive and that is not what representative democracy is all about. MPs must also understand their role is to serve their constituencies as well make laws in the best interest of Namibians. There is surely no place for self-serving individuals who have become increasingly isolated from those who pay their salaries and even vote for them. The order of business in parliament can and should not be joked with. It is therefore incumbent on MPs to demonstrate that they take parliament debates seriously and in the best interest of the Namibian people who elected them into power. Parliament must now emerge from the shadows and become a much more dynamic institution that allows greater space for open and frank debate.