Namibia: 'Parliament Not for Display of Brawn'

JUSTICE minister Yvonne Dausab says parliament was not a platform to settle personal scores and therefore threats of violence should not be tolerated in the house.

Dausab reminded parliamentarians that they were elected representatives of the people and therefore should act in a manner that does not "threaten the integrity and decorum of this house".

Dausab made these remarks in the National Assembly yesterday when she condemned the "threats of violence" that took place between Swapo and opposition members of parliament last week.

"This environment [parliament] was never intended to be a battle ground to settle scores. It was not meant to embarrass, abuse or disregard any member of our human family.

"The conception of an august house to which we clearly subscribe, was intended to be a gathering of dignity and grandeur and the code of conduct of the National Assembly places a specific duty on us to maintain the dignity and image of this imposing, majestic and magnificent gathering," Dausab said.

She added that MPs are obliged by parliament rules to uphold the Constitution and the laws of Namibia and that the Nasional Assembly should therefore not become a place in which "misogynistic violence conditions the female experience".

Dausab was refereeing to an incident in which Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters parliamentarian Kalimbo Iipumbu and former Swapo chief whip Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele were involved in a verbal confrontation which sucked in former deputy finance minister Natangue Iithete.

The justice minister added that members of the public were disgusted by the displays in the National Assembly and the recent incident was proof that violence against women in politics was happening in Namibia.

"What we saw last week is not what Namibian people want to see when they join us in the public gallery or watch on television. They are watching to see whether the issues they have entrusted us with are being considered. All power vests in the Namibian people. We are proxy holders of this power.

"It is therefore important that as members of the National Assembly, we defray this responsibility in a manner that it does not threaten the integrity and decorum of this house," Dausab stressed.

The minister therefore said, during the performance of their duties in parliament, MPs should always be guided by the objectives of the Constitution, by public interest and by "our own conscience".

"We must be a country that is ruled by law; that seeks justice; and that understands that our individual behaviour is a reflection of our collective conscience as a nation. We are pursuing happiness for all our people and when we act in their interest we embrace and internalise as though they were us," she said.

The minister also condemned the recent video which depicts a man physically assaulting a Pick n Pay employee.

Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani equally condemned last week's scuffles between Iipumbu and !Nawases-Taeyele.

Venaani said he was shocked by what happened. He urged fellow parliamentarians to "rise above our differences".

He urged MPs to instead raise their arguments but not their voices "because we are lawmakers and we make laws for everyone in the country".

"If we can't control our tempers, sometimes we look as if we are not capable of adjudicating on the socio-economic trajectory of our people. Regardless of the pettiness that was there, let's raise above pettiness and continue to build a country where we respect each other and the rights of our people," Venaani said, while requesting Iipumbu to apologise.

Iipumbu eventually apologised but maintained that what happened between him and !Nawases-Taeyele was not as perceived by the public. He said he only tried to instruct !Nawases-Taeyele that "it was wrong for her to say that to me".

"No one wants a woman to be treated in an unequal manner. What happened was not intentional. The problem is that there are people with a wrong perception of others. We should also try to groom our women to respect men. It is very much important," Iipumbu said.

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