Gurirab Optimistic About Young MPs

Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, says the sceptics questioning the improved injection of young people in the National Assembly are perpetrating prejudice against the abilities of Namibian youth in politics.

Speaking to New Era recently on an avalanche of parliamentary issues, Gurirab was confident that young Namibians heading to parliament after the November elections can deliver.

“We should not discriminate against the youth by virtue of their age because young people are not stupid. I think questioning their credentials is just a method used by the elders to prejudice the youth and in the same vein hoping to recover,” said Gurirab.

Contrary to critics who claim the young contingent heading to the National Assembly will dilute the quality of debates and at the same time take time to grasp the procedures of parliament, Gurirab said he does not see the young debutants acting recklessly in the House but that they would make positive contributions.

“We sent them [youth] to universities and allow them to run youth organisations, so why should they all of a sudden become reckless just because they are going to parliament?” Gurirab asked.

Some of the young guns that will grace the National Assembly this year include Sacky Shanghala, Bernadus Swartbooi, Veikko Nekundi and Vipuakuje Muharukua.

DTA president McHenry Venaani and his deputy Vinsent Kanyetu, both very youthful, have also made it to parliament.

Regarding the much-criticised decision to enlarge the National Assembly from 78 to 104 members, Gurirab reiterated that the decision was taken to ensure representativeness in the august chamber and brushed aside allegations that the expansion was made to benefit the ruling party.

“The enlargement implied that parties elected obtain as much seats as possible and at the same time make it more representative when it comes to political views in the country. This also ensures that those parties who make it into parliament get more seats which will enable them to be involved in more committees,” explained the speaker.

Regarding the conduct of MPs, Gurirab was satisfied with the overall behaviours of lawmakers but questioned the limited ideological differences between all the parties.

“The members are generally well-behaved and although there are occasional confrontations during the debates, you still see them mingling during breaks regardless of party differences,” he said.

“There is no clear ideological differences in terms of political economy or politics in general. In some countries you have parties that represent religious interests, others have parties that represent the interests of the rich or poor and even those that solely represent the interests of the youth and so on. We do not have such concepts in the country,” he said.

The biggest challenge this year would be to keep order in the house and ensure that members concentrate on the business of the house instead of personal issues as well as to ensure that they take their responsibilities to serve the populace seriously as citizens and leaders representing the people.

Source : New Era