Windhoek — The Head of State has urged lawmakers to ensure service delivery through the passing of relevant legislation in order to address bread and butter issues.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba made the appeal yesterday during the opening of the Seventh Session of the Fifth Parliament in the National Assembly. Pohamba pointed out that the magnitude of poverty and unemployment, low living standards, lack of access to food, housing, potable water, quality education and health care are daily reminders to "us all of an unfinished agenda in achieving economic and social justice for all our people."
Since the country has been independent for the last 22 years, Pohamba said the time has come to deliver and meet people's expectations in an efficient and effective manner. "I must hasten to add that while passing laws is necessary, it is not sufficient in itself. Our parliament must pass laws that improve service delivery and bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of our people. If we fail to provide basic necessities to our people, our inaction will be tantamount to abdication of the sacred duty bestowed upon us by the electorate," Pohamba told lawmakers.
The Head of State further reminded them that democracy would be meaningless if the people of Namibia were to remain destitute and without enough food to eat on their tables. He said the right to vote would also be meaningless if the elected leaders do not deliver on their promises of a better life and provision of public services to the people. He also pleaded with parliamentarians to ensure that all outdated laws, which impede development and progress be repealed and done away with, saying they have no place in an independent and democratic Namibia.
On a different note, Pohamba said the nation should be proud that the consolidation of democracy in post-colonial Namibia has been a success. He explained that in a relatively short period of 22 years, Namibia has managed to put in place a system of governance that has proven to be stable, workable and sustainable. "Parliamentary debates have not only continued unimpeded over the past 22 years, but have also assumed a pleasing degree of maturity. Since independence, our parliament has passed a large body of legislation, which forms an important basis for the development of our country. I can state with pride that we have succeeded to build a constitutional state with organs that ensure the separation of powers, namely, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary," he said.
According to him, good governance and democracy demand that lawmakers articulate and represent the needs and aspirations of the people.
He urged MPs to forge closer ties with the electorate, especially at grassroot level. "It is our duty, as their representatives to remain pro-active 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 stressed.
The theme of the Seventh Session of the Fifth Parliament is "Connecting Parliament with the Public; Ensuring Accountability and Public Disclosure." This year alone seven new pieces of legislation will be tabled before parliament. These include the agricultural enhancement agents, audit, childcare and protection, communal land reform amendment, gaming and entertainment control, marriage, public procurement and urban and regional planning bills. Pohamba is hopeful that in the process of debating and refining these laws, lawmakers will interact with communities on a regular basis to seek their views and opinions about the challenges that confront them.
Asser Kapere, the Speaker of the National Council (NC) said he is confident that as lawmakers they would ensure service delivery as articulated by Pohamba in passing laws that address the social challenges facing the nation. Both members of the National Assembly and the National Council were present to hear Pohamba's address and all observed a moment of silence in memory of the late Education Minister, Dr Abraham Iyambo who passed away while on official duty in London, United Kingdom over a week ago.
School children gathered at the parliament gardens gateway holding national flags to welcome the president, who was accompanied by the First lady, Penexupifo Pohamba, while different cultural groups performed as the first couple and his entourage entered Parliament Gardens.