Namibia: Prolonged Parliament Break Irks Lpm's Swartbooi

LANDLESS People's Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi says he is disappointed that the National Assembly has not been able to debate and finalise various bills and parliamentary motions due to a continuous postponement of its sessions.

The National Assembly has been on an extended break since late May, after resuming its sittings in February on the back of another prolonged recess in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic regulations.

There were no sessions for the National Assembly since the beginning of June, but members of the assembly were called back to parliament last week to approve the reappointment of Anti-Corruption Commission director general Paulus Noa and his deputy, Erna van der Merwe, for a further five years, and also approve the appointment of a new chairperson and two new members of the Electoral Commission of Namibia.

To Swartbooi, this does not make sense and it points to a lazy and ineffective leadership.

"We are getting paid for sleeping late and eating ourselves fat, because it is a two weeks' suspension after another two weeks' suspension. Yet globally other parliaments are doing their job," he said on Wednesday.

Swartbooi made the remarks at a press conference following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned a High Court judgement in which an application to set aside a decision by National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi to indefinitely suspend Swartbooi and fellow LPM member Henny Seibeb from attending parliamentary sessions had been dismissed.

Swartbooi said the continuous suspension of parliamentary sessions has affected more than 31 bills and 15 motions meant to improve people's lives.

"This is very scary. I am connecting this to the global question of Covid-19 whereby other parliaments continue to do their work through Zoom and other types of IT capabilities that are available to them.

"Here, this parliament is constantly on a lockdown. Not doing anything productive, but when there is a need to take decisions of a rubbish nature, such as the appointment of Noa, suddenly the fears of Covid-19 evaporate. It is sad," he said.

He added that the fact that Katjavivi has not tried to ask for the parliament to be declared an essential service showed he was not committed to his work.

"What type of leadership are we with such low moral conviction and low level of commitment to our work that it is okay to be on constant holidays on the basis of a disease that apparently can be stopped by a mask and some sort of vaccine?" he said.

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