Parliament denies poor delivery

Parliament denies poor delivery
Parliament denies poor delivery

Africa-Press – Namibia. George Sanzila

The National Assembly has over the last two successive years of 2020 and 2021 tabled 17 Bills of which 10 were passed contrary to a recent media report.

This is so, despite the period having been the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in endless disruptions of activities of institutions including that of parliament.

These sentiments are expressed in the recently released press statement by the National Assembly to quell a recent report in The Namibian newspaper which labelled the Legislature as having failed to deliver on its mandate of law making.

The article, which the National Assembly says is beset with misleading information meant to deliberately paint the institution as incompetent, states that the National Assembly delivered poorly by only passing eight of the 20 Bills tabled during the last two years.

The statement from the National Assembly released Tuesday notes that at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, parliament like other institutions, faced many disruptions such as suspensions of sittings in order to adhere to the Covid-19 protocols.

“Due to Covid 19, from 2020, only a limited number of Bills were both tabled and passed. The rapid increase in the number of Covid 19 cases in the country prompted the country to go into a lockdown resulting in parliament postponing its sittings until 27 May 2020. Sittings were suspended again from 28 July until 9 August 2020. In 2021, parliament was further compelled to go on a break during the second half of its third session in June due to an increase of Covid 19 cases,” reads the statement.

The statement also notes that the Legislature had no control over whether the Bills on the preliminary list of Bills from the Ministry of Justice would reach the House for tabling as that prerogative lies with the latter ministry.

“Not all Bills on the list of Bills to be tabled from the Ministry of Justice reach the National Assembly. The preliminary list of Bills expected to be tabled falls under the ambit of the Ministry of Justice,” explained the statement.

According to the statement, parliament’s productivity can be attested by the number of Bills that were tabled and passed before and even during the Covid pandemic, contrary to the purported statistics provided by The Namibian newspaper in the report.

“In 2018, the National Assembly tabled and passed all 20 Bills. In 2019, the National Assembly tabled 15 Bills and all were passed except for one that was withdrawn. In 2020, six Bills were tabled and all were passed and in 2021, 11 Bills were tabled and four passed while four lapsed and two were withdrawn. The first session of 2022 has seen four Bills tabled and two passed thus far,” read the statement.

The National Assembly notes that to avoid further interruptions of activities, the legislature has since adopted innovations such as information technologies that are now largely entrenched in the workplace.

The Namibian Legislature had to rapidly transform, despite the heavy cost burden that comes with such complex yet necessary technologies.

Information and communication technologies have enabled virtual meetings and livestreams of parliament sessions.

“Parliament has taken drastic measures in ensuring that its activities remain uninterrupted. This was achieved through the setting up of video conferencing facilities and has enabled parliament to hold virtual sessions as well as livestreaming of parliament sessions.” The National Assembly further clarified that its activities were not only limited to tabling and passing of Bills but that its other functions included oversight over the Executive, adding that parliament has held several public hearings and consultations during the same period, the notable being the public hearing on matters of concern related to ReconAfrica’s oil and gas exploration activities in the Kavango East and West regions and the topical issue of whether to legalise or not legalise abortion in Namibia.

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