WITH Namibia entering its 23rd year of independence, it is time to deliver to meet the needs of the Namibian nation in an effective and efficient manner, said President Hifikepunye Pohamba at the opening of the seventh session of Parliament yesterday.
As the next general election in 2014 is drawing near, the government is under increasing pressure to deliver on its successive election promises as large sections of the Namibian population remain unemployed and sliding into poverty despite various knee-jerk interventions such as the multi-billion-dollar Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) that has so far yielded disappointing results.
There are also growing demands for more public accountability and transparency, improved public service delivery and, importantly, an accelerated conclusion to a fair and equitable land-reform process.
"Democracy would be meaningless if our people were to remain poor and without enough food to eat. The right to vote would be meaningless if the elected leaders do not deliver on their promises of a better life and provision of public services to the people," Pohamba emphasised.
"I have no doubt that all of us are deeply concerned about the future of our country," the president said at the session which opened with much pomp and ceremony attended by members of the diplomatic corps and foreign dignitaries, high-ranking government officials and members of the public.
"Collectively and individually, we have an obligation to address the many challenges facing our nation. The magnitude of poverty and unemployment, low living standards, lack of access to food, housing, potable water, quality education and healthcare are daily reminders to us all of an unfinished agenda in achieving economic and social justice for all our people," Pohamba said.
Pohamba urged parliamentarians to forge closer ties with ordinary people, especially those at grassroots level.
"It is our duty as their representatives to remain proactive in dealing with present and emerging challenges that face our nation. Our Parliament should not only serve to deepen democracy, but it should also monitor developments and hold to account the executive in implementing the mandates entrusted to them by the electorate," Pohamba said.
The seventh session of Parliament will thus aptly focus on connecting Parliament with the public and ensuring accountability and public disclosure.
"This reflects our commitment as a nation to strengthen our democratic institutions and entrench transparency in our country. This is vital for the promotion of democracy and good governance," the president added.
Pohamba wants to see more cooperation between the National Assembly and National Council, as well as the parliamentary standing committees, particularly the committee on public accounts.
This year, there are eight pieces of legislation to be tabled before Parliament. These are the Agricultural Enhancement Agents Bill, Audit Bill, Child Care and Protection Bill, Communal Land Reform Amendment Bill, Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill, Marriage Bill, Public Procurement Bill, and the Urban and Regional Planning Bill.
"All old laws which impede development and progress must be repealed and done away with. They have no place in an independent and democratic Namibia," Pohamba said.