By: Kelvin Chiringa
President Hage Geingob will this week open parliament which for the remainder of 2019 will be guided by the theme “Promoting integrity, Accountability, and Professionalism”.
Speaking to the media this week, Speaker of Parliament Professor Peter Katjavivi elaborated on the theme stressing that integrity was central to any parliamentary democracy because lawmakers need to uphold the highest degree of integrity.
“In the case of Namibia, this is clearly articulated in Article 47 that deals with the disqualification of members of parliament as well as Article 55 that deals with the taking of oath of affirmation.”
“By agreeing to meet certain ethical criteria and by taking an oath or affirmation, in terms of the above-mentioned articles, members of the Namibian parliament totally commit themselves in good conscience, to ethical behaviour,” he said.
The theme also echoes the Presidential declaration of 2019 as a year when servants of the state will commit to accountability, an element that has been found lacking by critics.
Even the chairperson for the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts, Mike Kavekotora had his doubts on the credibility of the President’s declaration.
“They say the taste is in the pudding,” said Kavekotora who last year grilled Air Namibia and NSFAF over accountability related issues.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has in the meantime lamented that the way annual procurement plans were handled by government offices, ministries and agencies indicated that significant transparency and accountability gaps remain in the public procurement sector.
This critique is informed by the observation that annual procurement plans of state sector entities and authorities were not publicly available on prescribed websites.
Nevertheless, Katjavivi said when it comes to accountability, parliament was mandated to hold the executive to account in terms of its powers and functions as stipulated in Article 63 of the constitution.
How has parliament performed so far?
Katjavivi came out to claim that parliament excelled in 2018 in its representative role both at home and abroad.
He said despite the financial challenges, they managed to participate in most of their statutory engagements with regional and international parliaments.
“We managed to ink a couple of technical capacity building and networking arrangements with the Common Wealth Parliamentary Association, UK office, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, the National People’s Congress of China and the German parliament.”
“We have also continued to engage with the European Union (EU), especially in the area of strengthening parliamentary engagement with the civil society so as to promote good governance in the country,” he said.
In the meantime, Katjavivi has appealed to ordinary Namibians to show up for the opening of parliament in numbers this coming Wednesday.
The house also wishes to go paperless which means parliamentarians will have to bring along their electronic gadgets.