22 February 2013

Namibia: Speaker's Motion Catches NA Off Guard

THE National Assembly (NA) experienced awkward moments yesterday when parliamentarians seemed to be at loss how to deal with an unopposed motion tabled by the Speaker of the House, Theo-Ben Gurirab.

The motion by Gurirab requests the NA to support his condemnation of domestic violence, especially against women and children, and the enforcement of relevant legislation aimed at improving their conditions.

This is the first time that a Speaker of the NA has introduced a motion in the House and though opposition parties seem to have been consulted as most of their leaders had their contributions prepared, chaos nearly broke out as the DTA of Namibia president Katuutire Kaura took to the floor.

Some ruling Swapo Party members of parliament and even opposition parliamentarian Kuaima Riruako questioned Kaura's contribution to the motion, wanting him simply to support the motion.

Kaura, however, stood his ground and said that he could not simply support the motion without substantiating it.

Gurirab allowed debate on the motion to continue but appeared uneasy and the situation was mostly saved by the nature of the motion that made it impossible for any MP to oppose it.

However, MPs nearly got involved in debates over what factors could be blamed for the continued spate of violence against women and children.

The Speaker 'consulted' with legal experts of parliament during the break and informed the NA that although the tabling of a motion by someone in his chair is not unique, it is a first for the country.

He asked that deliberations on the motion should only be in support of it, as it would be difficult for the Speaker to defend his motion as he is supposed to be "for everyone in the House and not be involved in party-political matters."

The motion was supported across the political divide.

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