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Age is just but a number- Katjavivi

National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi

Speaker of National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi has shot down at perception that he is well advanced in age to continue with government business saying he still has the energy to push on.

If he is to make it back to parliament, considering that he has been nominated by President Hage Geingob, Katjavivi will be around 83 years of age by the completion of the Presidential second tenure.

The speaker spoke to Eagle FM’s anchor Wonder Guchu who inquired what more he still needed to do for the country given that he is now 78 years of age.

Anger and criticism flared up over the President’s 10 nominees where the party’s old guard, most of whom have served government since independence, were independently picked by Geingob to serve in his next elections.

But that is if he is to win the next elections.

Experts and analysts have expressed that the Swapo ruling party is well destined for another victory this coming November citing weaknesses in the opposition ranks and Swapo still being a popular party.

Katjavivi said the President has seen him as a patriot who is still willing to serve and that is why he has been picked.

The speaker, was selected by the President together with old guards in the person of the National Council Chairperson, Margret Mensa Williams and Jerry Ekandjo.

This week, Katjavivi was more than willing to flaunt his record.

“The willingness to serve and the whole idea of continuing to serve is not necessarily due to the fact that one has not done this and that. It is the willingness on the part of the individual concern in term of records, before independence and after independence. My contribution and my records are as a patriot in terms of the contribution I have made to national reconstruction and development of Namibia,” he said.

Katjavivi rejected at the Pot

However in spite of his track record, what is apparent is that the Speaker fell out of favour of the delegates that congregated at the Swapo Electoral College last week to vote for candidates of their choice.

In his speech, Geingob even indicated that the vote would be by merit and saying that if government officials had not performed, Swapo would punish them.

Does Swapo see him as a patriot of excellence given his dismal performance at the Pot?

“In politics, there are always ups and downs. But what I think is important is the fact that the President, the leader of the party and the government has found it extremely necessary to elevate me,” he said.

The Speaker, in an apparent attack on the delegates, said the President knew him better than them given that they were in the trenches together back during the formative liberation days.

Leniency at parliament

The Speaker has been criticized for being too lenient with members of who bunk parliament.

He said while he played the role of a referee, calling members to order he should not be expected to be seen as a police man.

He said he should not be expected to drag members of parliament by the neck and bring them to work.

He said such a role was in the ambit of the chief whips, from all political parties

But one of the critical questions is whether Professor Katjavivi has been a partial referee during his tenure.

Criticism has floated around within opposition ranks that he was biased to the motions of the ruling party members of parliament.

But has parliament become a retirement home as some media houses have suggested this week, where parliamentarians go to enjoy state comforts that come with a raft of benefits accorded to them and their benefits?

One of the weeklies have reported that, “It has become a norm for some senior government employees to step down to resurface at the Swapo party’s Electoral College in a bid to join parliament, raising criticism among the rank of frustrated youth that feels they are being held back while parliament is treated as a retirement option”.

The weekly goes on to state that, “This trend of retiring into politics flies in the face of repeated calls by the senior politicians to the youth to establish their own businesses and not to look to government for handouts or jobs, but rather to create employment for themselves and others than look to government for solutions”.

The speaker flatly denied these observations from journalists.



Kelvin Chiringa

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