Internal Affairs

National Council has limited power: Namiseb

Summary

Secretary to the National Council (NC), Advocate Tousy Namiseb says the institution’s powers are largely limited, reducing it to a recommending body serving at the pleasure of the National Assembly.Namiseb was speaking during a study visit by the NC’s …

Secretary to the National Council (NC), Advocate Tousy Namiseb says the institution’s powers are largely limited, reducing it to a recommending body serving at the pleasure of the National Assembly.

Namiseb was speaking during a study visit by the NC’s South African equivalent [National Council of Provinces (NCOP)] here on Monday.

He conceded that the review function of the NC is a serious challenge as all legislative powers are vested in the National Assembly.

“The keyword is ‘recommendation’. And when you recommend, your recommendations are either used or not,” Namiseb told his counterparts.

Even if the national budget is referred to the NC for scrutiny, as is the case now, it can only make recommendations.

“The National Council does not have any powers apart from proposing amendments,” the lawyer lamented.

He continued painting a grim picture.

“Article 77 [of the Constitution] (4) (d) provides that the National Assembly may reconsider a Bill [brought by the National Council] and make an amendment. The keyword is ‘may’,” he said.

But the NC has some powers to primarily achieve its constitutional mandate.

The NC is empowered to self-regulate, make rules and procedures and establish committees.

“We have the standing rules and orders. We have standing committees through which we are doing our oversight function,” he added.

During the discussion, Namiseb also gave an update on the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Bill.

The Bill aims to empower the local communities at the constituency level, with resources, to design and implement development projects through a fund, separate from their current minuscule budget.

At present, most constituencies operate with an around N.dollars 2 million annual budget to implement community projects.

“[The CDF Bill] was submitted to the National Assembly quite some time ago. The process is ongoing. It was referred to the relevant ministries and it has advanced. Before the end of this year, we hope to see significant development on that one,” Namiseb said.

The draft legislation provides guidance on how the funds are to be used - mainly for community-based initiatives such as the drilling of boreholes, gardening projects, capacity building and environmental activities, including waste management.

Source: The Namibian Press Agency