8 March 2013

Namibia: Budget Debate Brings Parliament to Life

THE National Assembly (NA) came to life yesterday during the budget debate as Nudo parliamentarian Arnold Tjihuiko tore into Cabinet ministers, blaming them of mismanaging State funds. Tjihuiko said the current rate of underspending by ministers and their permanent secretaries is criminal.

This prompted All People's Party (APP) parliamentarian Ignatius Shixwameni to ask why criminals are allowed to roam the streets freely rather than being in jail.

Tjihuiko qualified his statement by responding that the act of underspending is criminal. Defence Minister Nahas Angula was not impressed by Tjihuiko's remark, saying that the person who commits a criminal act is a criminal, and requested him to withdraw his comment, which Tjihuiko did under duress as he had limited time to speak.

Tjihuiko continued by saying that the government does not have the ability to plan and always depends on "reactionary projects" such as the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (Tipeeg) once the problems escalate.

He further said that government is doing little to stop the waste of State funds, as millions disappeared from state-owned entities such as the Government Institutions Pension Fund and nothing was done.

This irked Swapo MPs including Prime Minister Hage Geingob, who accused Tjihuiko of demeaning an honourable House.

Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Samuel Ankama was less diplomatic and accused the Nudo parliamentarian of lying. Tjihuiko's repeated reference to newspaper articles did not go down well with the ruling party MPs but he maintained that the government is to blame for the lack of information while the electorate has to depend on the media to gain insight into the affairs of State and governance.

Swapo MP Kazenambo Kazenambo, without taking the floor, said Tjihuiko's speech was a waste of time.

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