Namibia: Parliament Session Ends in Chaos

CHAOS erupted in the National Assembly yesterday following disagreements between deputy speaker Loide Kasingo and members of the opposition over why prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was allowed to call for an "urgent" special parlia-mentary session.

The National Assembly was adjourned on Wednes-day until Tuesday, 22 October. However, parliamentar-ians and members of the media were informed through text messages to attend an "urgent special" session on Thursday, called by Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

The purpose of the urgent meeting was not stated in the message. Opposition members, including PDM president McHenry Venaani, RDP leader Mike Kave-kotora and APP's Ignatius Shixuameni contended that it was illegal for the prime minister to call for a parliamentary session.

"There is nothing untoward with you as (deputy) speaker receiving an urgent request from the govern-ment to discuss an issue. This is the house of laws that should be governed by the laws that govern this nation".

"It is your right as the deputy speaker to call parlia-ment, but there is everything wrong to tell members of this house that the prime minister has recalled parliament, because she does not have the powers to call for a parliamentary session," Venaani stressed.

The "urgent" item was a motion by finance minister Calle Schlettwein to notify parliament that he would be tabling the mid-term budget review on Tuesday next week.

This announcement was not done on Wednesday, apparently because Schlettwein submitted the notice late to the National Assembly secretariat.

Venaani said it was "laughable" that the head of government in parliament [the prime minister] was allowed to call for a special urgent parliamentary session.

The action shows that the ruling party was undermin-ing the procedures of the National Assembly.

He added that this also shows that the executive was using parliament to rubber-stamp decisions without any input from members of parliament.

After the arguments, opposition members walked out of the chamber, even before the "urgent" matter was discussed.

Only two opposition members from the United Democratic Front (UDF) remained for the tabling of the "urgent" motion by the finance minister.

As opposition members walked out, members of the ruling party, including land reform minister Utoni Nujoma and gender equality minister Doreen Sioka, shouted "shame on you", and "just go", among other utterances.

Kasingo, however, refused to admit wrongdoing in terms of how the invitation for the urgent session was sent out.

"There is an urgent thing that needs to be done, and we are not in recess. So, who am I as the servant of the people, if the prime minister requests for the sitting? We are here to hear the urgent motion by the finance minister," she said.

Kasingo accused the opposition parties of campaign-ing in parliament after they accused the ruling party of flouting parliamentary procedures.

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