Namibia: Katjavivi Acquires Machine to 'Mute Unruly' MPs

21 September 2020

Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi said parliament has acquired a system that allows him to switch off microphones of members of parliament who 'disrespect' the rules of the house.

Katjavivi said this in the National Assembly on Thursday last week.

The Namibian could not establish how much parliament spent on the new system, which includes installing a tablet on each member's table.

Katjavivi (79) said the machine was acquired because some members' conducts are threatening the integrity and decorum of the house.

"For too long I have observed members speaking without being called on, members shouting out comments and calling each other names and using unbecoming gestures while the assembly is in session," he said.

"I wish to bring the following to your kind attention. I instructed a system controller to switch off microphones of any member who stands up or starts talking without requesting for the floor and granted in terms of the rules," he added.

The speaker stated that any member who persists and talks without requesting for the floor, will be requested to leave the chamber.

He said, "I will no longer tolerate unbecoming behaviour. This is my ruling and I will not entertain any debate. I request your full support," said the speaker.

THREAT TO OPPOSITION

Landless People's Movement [LPM] parliamentarian Henny Seibeb said the speaker is trying to issue a threat to LPM MPs, which he said borders on criminality.

"The only right that MPs have is to raise issues which he is trying to stop. We gave him a letter on 1 July 2020 from our lawyer Elize Angula asking him to stop threatening lawmakers or else we go to the High Court for the interpretation of laws," he said.

Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters legislator Longinus Iipumbu said Katjavivi is biased.

He said the speaker should not be one-sided.

"The fact that he is a Swapo person, he tries to favour his party and colleagues. The speaker and Swapo MPs fear to debate robustly. The truth in the house is being withheld if raised," he said.

The current administration has failed and they are using parliament to defend themselves rather than to contribute to the growth of our economy, he added.

"That utterance is basically targeting opposition MPs, not Swapo MPs. Swapo MPs are the rudest people and instead of listening and contemplating on the matter on the table, they shout and make unnecessary noise, just to defend themselves. The country's administration is at risk," Iipumbu said.

Both Katjavivi and his deputy Loide Kasingo did not answer calls to their mobile phones.

However, parliament spokesperson David Nahogandja said the new system was installed in August during the recess. He added that the idea to bring in a new system is not new. It allegedly existed seven years ago.

He refused to disclose how much was spent on the system.

This year parliament has had numerous confrontations to the extent that the LPM leaders called founding president Sam Nujoma a thug and loser while also calling Nujoma's son, Utoni a fat idiot.

In July, Iipumbu and Swapo backbencher Natangue Ithete almost fought in the chamber during a debate.

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