Elders critical for politics

06 September 2019 | Politics

There is no age limit in politics and being a member of parliament should not be seen as an employment opportunity, Swapo MP Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana has said.

Instead, parliament is a place to “create laws, to scrutinise policies and to be on top of national issues”, she answered when asked on Wednesday by Nampa if it was not time for her to retire and create room for aspiring younger legislators.

“Let us not fool ourselves. Politics is not for children. Politics is for people whose minds have grown enough experience, either work experience, political experience or whatever experience.

“If we think parliament is an employment agency, then we are taking this country down the drain,” she said.

Iivula-Ithana, 66, has been an MP since 1990.

Over the years, she has served as deputy minister of tourism and minister of sport, land, justice, home affairs, and as attorney-general.

“There is no handover here. There are elections. The handover is with the civil servants. When you reach 60, you go. But I have not seen a law prescribing how old MPs should be,” she added.

According to her, only an individual who is physically or mentally unfit cannot become a parliamentarian.

Iivula-Ithana further said Namibia must learn good practices from other mature political jurisdictions where the age of an individual is not a gauge for assuming political office.

“Tell me, which parliament is being run by children? The ability and capability of an individual have nothing to do with age.”

However, some individuals do bribe their way into parliament, she voiced, noting this is due to loopholes in the party-list systems that Namibia uses to elect candidates for the 96 National Assembly seats.

“Even people who themselves cannot for obvious reasons go to a village and convince villagers to vote for them can go to parliament today, because their friends and cronies can say 'we will vote for you' even if this person cannot contribute to the debate in parliament,” she said. Meanwhile, Speaker Peter Katjavivi, who is 78, confirmed his participation in this weekend's intraparty elections, but declined to be drawn into the age discussion.

Another Swapo Party national electoral college contestant, land reform minister Utoni Nujoma who turns 67 on Sunday, also shrugged off the question.

Over 200 Swapo members will convene in Windhoek this weekend to draw up a list of 96 members who will qualify for National Assembly seats.

Namibia will hold national elections in November.

– Nampa

Edward Mumbuu Jnr

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