New Era (Windhoek)

11 April 2014

Namibia: Executing the Parliamentary Task

editorial

NOT so long ago the Namibian Parliament formulated and pursued the initiative of 'taking Parliament to the people.' It was an approach borne by the desire to bring ordinary people inside Parliament, as it were, to make them understand there is a direct link between their aspirations as articulated to their leaders in their constituencies and regions, and the discussions that take place in Parliament, be it in the National Assembly or the National Council. It was a noble undertaking that encapsulated the democratic principle of a 'government by the people for the people'.

Recent public discussions by ordinary citizens, and by Members of Parliament, either inside Parliament or outside, remind of such principled task of yesteryear, but that perhaps it is time the country builds on the idea. Especially when it seems certain quarters of society appear to take lightly the institution of Parliament, either through sheer ignorance or a fundamental absence of information. It should be mentioned that often MPs tend to fall short of their parliamentary tasks and as such render the public to forget just how important Parliament is, not only to democracy and good governance, but to the very existence of the Namibian republic.

Functions of MPs go way beyond discussions and debates televised on the public broadcast channels and/or as quoted in newspapers every day.

In the National Assembly sit 72 men and women who bear the democratic torch on behalf of the people, legislating through numerous sessions that scrutinise the development agenda as they seek to draw up new laws, refresh outdated ones and implement the very laws and polices that speak to the desired development agenda of the country through democratic practices and good governance. A honourable task indeed and hence the reference to "Honourable Member of Parliament."

Parliament is an important institution of the republic not only for being one of the three pillars of the State - as the Legislature - but more so because its members are representatives of the people, elected to articulate, dissect and guide legislation governing the State. It is a privileged position, as it is within the confines of this very key state institution of our republic that those elected as representative of the people serve to ensure that government is by the people and for the people.

Democracy and good governance as a whole, which we so much talk about these days - often out of context - does not come cheaply. Yes, it is fundamental to the extent that some look at it as part of a human being's inalienable right, a fundamental requirement for the development of the country, peace and tranquillity. But it requires that citizens grasp the founding principles of this key institution to appreciate its existence. We need to understand that we would have a 'government by the people for the people' when we have constructive public participation in Parliament's affairs, which would lead to effective government response to public needs, delivery of the required services, accountability and the easy free flow of information.

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