Speaker clarifies issue of parliamentary space

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, has denied claims that members of parliament have vacated the Capital Centre building because the owners of the building are black.

A local daily reported last week that a source had complained that some lawmakers were deliberately complaining about the condition of the building merely because of the skin colour of the owners.

Due to an increase in the membership of the National Assembly, the institution has experienced space constraints, necessitating the lease of offices for additional members of parliament. Forty offices were rented for this purpose.

According to Katjavivi, numerous attempts have been made to try to raise issues of concern to the management of the building, but such calls have fallen on deaf ears.

"The complaints raised by MPs on the issues of constantly non-functional elevators, the security and hygiene of the building have absolutely nothing to do with the colour of the owners of the building. To make matters worse, the management of the building do not readily correct faults at the premises when brought to their attention," said Katjavivi.

He noted that the National Assembly was paying exorbitantly for services and only expects value for money. He added that the Ministry of Works and Transport that entered into agreement with the management of the building on behalf of the National Assembly was also notified of the concerns but the owners of the building continued to do nothing.

"We require value for money and it's quite frustrating when we keep repeating ourselves over and over. Red flags were raised and concerns shared with both the Ministry of Works and Transport and the management of Capital Centre but they never attempted to attend to the concerns raised," said Katjavivi.

He said that for the time being MPs that vacated the building are being accommodated at the National Assembly, despite the serious shortage of office space. Some MPs have as a result resorted to sharing offices.

The Speaker further reacted to claims in the same report that promises of asset declaration by lawmakers have come to nought.

He instead noted that great progress has been made and information on the latter would soon be in the public domain.

"I am very pleased to inform the public that MPs have complied with 100 percent asset declaration. Staff are now processing the information so that it can be available in the public domain. The information will be available on our website this year," assured Katjavivi.

Despite challenges with space, Katjavivi said 2017 would be an eventful year for parliament. Shortly after the official opening today the Namibian Parliament would be hosting and engaging with UK parliamentarians in a capacity building workshop.

o George Sanzila works as a Chief Information Officer for the Division of Research, Information, Publications and Editorial Services at the National Assembly.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia