Swapo MPs choose 62-day NA break over work

An attempt by leader of official opposition to extend the current National Assembly sitting beyond its envisaged recess date on 08 July fell flat on Wednesday.

McHenry Venaani, who leads the Popular Democratic Movement, moved a motion to extend the current sitting, arguing that lawmakers had sufficient rest during then national lockdowns that were aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19.

His premise is that Namibians require services and political direction of their lawmakers whom they have elected into office.

He said the Namibian economy is on its knees, that private sector is bleeding and job losses have become the order of the day.

Venaani added that it is incumbent upon the National Assembly to device an economic recovery strategy to salvage the Namibian economy which is in a precarious state.

“We must stop robbing the trust of the populace,” he appealed.

Normally, the assembly goes into recess to allow the respective parliamentary committees to do their work. However, there are currently no selected committee in place.

This effectively means members of parliament (MPs) are going on a two-month long holiday.

He argued further that the culture of getting free salaries amongst politicians must come to an abrupt end.

‘We must be at the service of our people,’ Venaani said.

“We must therefore remain in session to address the socio-economic conditions facing the population of our republic, firstly, challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and Erongo citizen that are inundated by the spread of the virus,” he said.

He added: “We just returned from a long holiday break due to the lockdown, yet, we are already proposing to adjourn the assembly. Namibians have children that are not going to schools, no housing and other social ills that are urgent matters the Namibians voted for in the 2019 watershed elections.”

His sentiments were echoed by Henny Seibeb, the Landless Peoples Movement’s chief whip in the National Assembly.

‘We must work. No free lunch. No free salary…we need to work for the nation,’ he said.

The motion was fully supported by all opposition (MPs).

On the opposition end were Swapo MPs, who voted against the motion.

From the Swapo benches, however, was Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah who abstained from partaking in the vote.

Eventually, the motion was thrown out of the window as the opposition MPs were outnumbered by those of Swapo.

The recess, therefore, will go ahead as planned from 08 July to 08 September 2020, which translates into 62 days of vacation, almost two months.

Verbal blows were also exchanged between LPM’s Utaara Mootu who rose to silences Swapo’s Maurin Hinda-Mbuende.

“What have you done? You have been here for five years already,” Mooto told Hinda-Mbuende as she took her seat.

Source: Namibia Press Agency