Civil society and politicians can coexist – Engelbrecht

On the ongoing fights in the National Assembly, Engelbrecht said the fights will continue if lawmakers prioritise personal battles instead of dealing with the national issues at hand.

14 May 2021 | Local News

STAFF REPORTER







WINDHOEK

Civil Society Information Centre (CSIC) coordinator Carola Engelbrecht says civil society still has a role to play when it comes to fostering a participatory democracy culture in Namibia.

The former politician also said despite the perennial animosity between civil society and political parties, the two can coexist.

Engelbrecht made these remarks earlier this week when she appeared on Namibian Sun’s Evening Review show, where she touched on a number of topics such as governance, corruption, law-making and the relevance of civil society in the current dispensation.

“There is this usual question where politicians try and discredit civil society by saying we are not elected, which I think is outdated because we can all contribute to the affairs of our democracy,” she said.

She said there are international instruments, recognised by the United Nations, that place the responsibility on governments to consult civil society movements in their respective jurisdictions when it comes to decision-making.

“There is international pressure for governments to prove that citizens have been consulted widely when embarking on certain reviews, be it constitutional or any other matter that impacts the citizenry,” she said.

She also accused government of, at times, failing to consult widely on national issues.

New blood brings life, unrest

Engelbrecht also underscored the need for civil society organisations to operate in unison on national issues and avoid fragmentation.

She further expressed concern over the affairs in the National Assembly, which she said adversely impacts the populace.

When asked what she makes of the ongoing fights in the National Assembly, Engelbrecht said the fights will continue if lawmakers prioritise personal battles instead of dealing with the national issues at hand.

“It’s a mixed bag. It’s good to have these new people in Parliament who are alive and unafraid, but there needs to be something so that we can move forward with parliamentary duties to achieve what is supposed to be achieved, which is law-making,” she said.

She added: “Since the new MPs entered Parliament, there is much more life and no more time to sleep because everybody is trying to cover whatever is being attacked. It also brought a lot of unrest and deviating from the business of the day”.

“Many times, Parliament ends without any decisions being taken. We as the civil society and as voters are concerned about the current status quo. There are a lot of things going on in Parliament instead of the business of the country,” Engelbrecht said.

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