It must be a battle of ideas

06 November 2018 | Columns

The debate on the formalisation of the informal sector, which is currently before the National Assembly, has sparked a war of words between poverty eradication minister Zephania Kameeta and public enterprises deputy minister Veikko Nekundi.

Kameeta castigated Nekundi for criticising local authority councillors for poor service delivery during his contribution to this important debate, claiming the deputy minister was embarrassing government. Kameeta went on to suggest that MPs should first discuss issues of concern in a caucus at party level before speaking out in the National Assembly. The Namibian reported that Nekundi said local authorities should be blamed for not making land available to cater for the informal sector, especially vendors who sell their products at crowded spaces. The events of last week clearly bring to the fore the hanging questions about intra-party democracy and the relevance of Swapo. By its nature, the National Assembly is an excellent platform and wonderful opportunity for scintillating debates and discussions on bread-and-butter issues. There must be a serious battle of ideas, including the need for greater openness and accountability on the part of the government of the day. Ordinary people expect leaders from all political fronts to engage in issue-based politics. Swapo members, including those in prominent leadership positions, should not be silenced into submission, with no opposing views being entertained. This country needs more practical idealists, who will never compromise on the issue of principles. There is nothing errant about speaking out about the problems facing your nation. Generating opinions and shaping attitudes that serve to challenge or affirm the state of affairs in our country should be the mainstay of our society. It is our sincere hope that the retired bishop will reflect on this by humbly withdrawing his remarks in the August house, and by not seeking to stifle the opinion of others, on the basis of party loyalty. It's preposterous, to say the very least.

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