8 February 2018

Namibia: Meetings Derail Parliamentary Quorums - Katjavivi

Windhoek — Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi says political party activities are the main contributing factor to lawmakers often missing parliamentary sessions.

The absenteeism of MPs has led to numerous parliamentary sittings having to be postponed because of the lack of a quorum - a fact that Katjavivi attributed mainly to MPs attending political party gatherings conducted during scheduled parliamentary sessions.

There are two kinds of quorums in the National Assembly, namely the sitting quorum, which requires 26 members with voting powers for the house to begin with business of the day, while the voting quorum requires the presence of 49 voting (elected) members for decisions to be made.

"As I clarified this issue with some media houses, this phenomenon is not unique to Namibia," Katjavivi said to New Era.

He however said that the advantage in most countries is that annual party events like conferences are often hosted when parliament is in recess. In this way, he said, parliamentary functions are often not disrupted.

Katjavivi said in the Namibian scenario, it would be thus preferable the country hosts annual political party events when parliament is in recess.

"Should such events take place when parliament is supposed to be in session, logical arrangements should be applied to ensure they do not disrupt the achievement of key milestones within the legislative year as set out at the opening of parliament," Katjavivi added.

"So far the National Assembly has excelled in its performance, beyond what we had even set out to achieve, and as evidenced such events have not so far undermined the performance of parliament."

President Hage Geingob is expected to officially open parliament next week Tuesday.

The opening will take place under the theme 'Enhancing partnerships to strengthen good governance in Namibia." Thirteen bills are expected to be tabled.

Katjavivi also wished outgoing Deputy Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Alpheus Muheua, who resigned from his ministerial position, all the best, adding that he fully understands that his resignation has been brought about by his prolonged ill health.

On behalf of the National Assembly, Katjavivi wished Muheua a speedy recovery and bright prospects with his family.

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