International trips must benefit Namibians - President Geingob says during 7th session of the 6th parliament opening

President Hage Geingob opened the 7th session of the 6th parliament on Tuesday afternoon with a focus on strengthening effective governance.

During his opening speech the President also stressed that government officials need to assure they travel with concrete reasons and not just because there is invitation to travel.

“Parliament as we know it, is described to be “sitting” or “in session” and not as a “traveling” Parliament,” the President said.

 The President also said that there have been silent debates on whether all members of parliament were entitled to diplomatic passports, to which he responded that a diplomatic passport is not an entitlement but rather a tool to help facilitate diplomatic work, being carried out in the interests of the State. 

“It is meant to enhance efficiencies and not to enhance prestige,” he said.

In his address, President Geingob also stressed that the Bills tabled be thoroughly debated and passed timeously.  

“That we are first and foremost accountable to the People, to serve their interest and not our personal interests.  Our ability to govern effectively, will face scrutiny this year and that is why I have declared the year 2018 the Year of Reckoning.”

“I am informed that a total of 20 bills are likely to be tabled in Parliament during this year.  I have learnt with disappointment that only 19 Bills were passed, out of the 40 Bills tabled during the last session.  I look forward to quality debate around the following Bills, the Education Bill; Plant Breeders and Farmers’ Rights Bill; Financial Institution and Market Bill and Prevention and Combating of Torture Bill, to name but a few,” the President said.

President Geingob while speaking on standing committees also said that more can be done to enhance the effectiveness of these committees who in turn are expected to transmit information timeously to constituencies, “on matters deliberated on by the House.  You are duty bound to ensure the views of citizens are considered and reflected in your deliberations.  Stakeholder consultation is therefore a prerequisite and Members of Parliament are encouraged to uphold national interest in deliberations,” he said.

He further said that effective governance cannot be fully achieved in a country fraught with division and factionalism.

“I will therefore never tire of regularly repeating the narrative of inclusivity, through the concept of the Namibian House; where No Namibian should feel left out, unless of course, one decides to exclude oneself as we build one Namibia - one Nation by pulling together in the same direction in the spirit of Harambee,” Geingob said.

He also said that it will be left to the parliament to provide clarity as to whether asset declarations by Parliamentarians should be publicly availed, or not.  

The President highlighted that Namibia was recently recognised for outstanding progress made in promoting Gender Equality, by the African Gender Forum, on the margins of the recently concluded AU Summit. 

“This recognition is attributable to the SWAPO policy of 50/50 gender representation and in that regard, I encourage all political parties to emulate this progressive policy, of the ruling party.”

“This is the year of reckoning.  I therefore, urge all of you to foster a culture of strong work ethic and zero tolerance for violence against women and children.  It is both deplorable and a painful reality, that women and children continue to suffer and lose their lives, at the hands of those they love and trust the most,” Geingob said.