Parly Seats Might Go Up to 100

THE seats in the National Assembly might increase from 72 to 100 if recommendations by the Law Reform and Development Commission are adopted.

This recommendation is included in the Commission’s report that was made public last year by its chairperson Sackey Shanghala.

Talking to The Namibian on Sunday, Shanghala confirmed that he had made presentations to Prime Minister Hage Geingob and the Attorney General Albert Kawana about consultations he had made on the issue.

According to the report, the LRDC proposes that two additional members per region should be directly elected to the National Assembly, which would mean there would be 28 regional councillors from the 14 regions.

The 28 regional councillors, if the proposal is adopted, will go directly to the National Assembly, thereby increasing the number to 100 from the current 72.

“The impact of such an arrangement of directly elected candidates per region would result in direct representation of the regions in the National Assembly and also represent particular regional interest in the house,” the report said.

The recommendation also states that the voters in the regions can take the directly elected leaders to task if they do not perform according to their expectations. Some would not be re-elected if they fail to perform.

This proposal, if adopted, according to the report, would strengthen the National Assembly standing committees since the current rules prohibit ministers to be members of standing committees.

“Adding 26 [now 28] to the National Assembly would immediately imply that the standing committees can be strengthened,” the report said.

Even though some politicians said they wanted better perks to enable them to visit their constituencies, the election of the current National Assembly members is based on the party list system. They are not directly elected as constituency representatives.

The report further says there were questions on whether, once the proposals to have 28 more MPs are adopted, the National Council would cease to exist.

The National Council comprises 26 members who were directly elected from the 13 regions before the Kavango was split into two regions. The Council could also be expanded by two members to represent the 14 regions in the next elections.

It also says another suggestion made was to withdraw ministers from the National Assembly, but that it was realised this would weaken executive representation in parliament.

“Suggestions have been made that ministers should not be represented in the National Assembly, thus there would be no representation of the executive in the National Assembly, or alternatively, that not more than a third of the National Assembly members should hold a seat of a minister,” the report said.

The law reform commission is currently working on the Electoral Law, which was delayed because Shanghala and his team started from scratch in June last year, combing four bills relating to elections after being told by the Attorney General, Albert Kawana, that lawmakers preferred a combined electoral legislation.

The National Assembly received N$177 million for this financial year while the 26-member National Council received N$103 million.

The Namibian reported yesterday that a possibility of increasing the size of the parliament has appeased Swapo politicians opposed to the 5050 gender representation in the ruling party.

News about the expansion of the legislative house comes a few months after Parliament approved the construction of a new National Assembly building that will cost about N$700 million.

The vote of the National Assembly shows that N$25 million will be used this year, N$40 million in the next two years and the N$573 million thereafter. A feasibility study commissioned by the National Assembly has already been completed.

Source : The Namibian