Swapo MPs choose 62-day NA break over work

02 July 2020 | Government

An attempt by the leader of official opposition to extend the current National Assembly (NA) sitting beyond its envisaged recess date on 8 July fell flat on Wednesday.
McHenry Venaani, who leads the Popular Democratic Movement, moved a motion to extend the current sitting, arguing that lawmakers had sufficient rest during the national lockdowns that were aimed at curtailing the spread of Covid-19. His premise is that Namibians require services and political direction of their lawmakers whom they have elected into office.
He said the Namibian economy is on its knees, the private sector is bleeding and job losses have become the order of the day.
Venaani added that it is incumbent upon the NA to devise an economic recovery strategy to salvage the Namibian economy which is in a precarious state. “We must stop robbing the trust of the populace,” he appealed.
Normally, the NA goes into recess to allow the respective parliamentary committees to do their work. However, there are currently no selected committees in place; meaning members of parliament (MPs) are going on a two-month long break.
Venaani argued that the “culture of getting free salaries amongst politicians must end. We must be at the service of our people. We must remain in session to address the socio-economic conditions facing the population of our republic challenged by the Covid-19 pandemic and Erongo citizens that are inundated by the spread of the virus.”
He added: “We just returned from a long holiday due to the lockdown, yet we are already proposing to adjourn the assembly. Namibians have children that are not going to schools, no housing and other social ills that are urgent matters the Namibians voted for in the 2019 watershed elections.”
His sentiments were echoed by Henny Seibeb, Landless People’s Movement chief whip in the NA. “We must work. No free lunch. No free salary...we need to work for the nation,” Seibeb said.
The motion was fully supported by all opposition MPs.
On the opposing end were Swapo MPs, who voted against the motion.
From the Swapo benches, however, was Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who abstained from partaking in the vote. Eventually, the motion was thrown out as the opposition MPs were outnumbered by those of Swapo.
The recess, therefore, will go ahead as planned from 8 July to 8 September 2020, which translates into 62 days of vacation. – Nampa