|MPs dodge parliament|
|Thursday, 12 March 2009 11:59|
THE habitual absenteeism amongst Members of Parliament from the opposition and the ruling Swapo party, who recently got a hefty 24% salary increase, has intensified ceaselessly despite pressing national crises such as the disastrous floods in the North and global credit crunch.
Thirteen MPs from the ruling Swapo Party, Republican Party, UDF, CoD, and DTA absconded a crucial session of the National Assembly last Thursday, just three weeks after President Hifikepunye Pohamba officially inaugurated the ninth session of the Fourth Parliament. |
The 13 MPs who absented themselves after the tea break are Prime Minister Nahas Angula, Safety and Security Minister Nickey Iyambo, Veteran Affairs Minister Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Ndaitwah and Mines and Energy Minister Erkki Nghimtina.
Other Swapo MPs who disappeared after the break are Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Raphael Dinyando, Regional and Local Government Deputy Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo, and Swapo backbencher Eunice Iipinge.
Also missing after the break was CoD MP Kaveri Kavari. From the UDF, party President Justus //Garoëb and his colleague Gustafine Tjombe also did not set foot in the chambers after the break.
Republican Party President Henk Mudge and his DTA counterpart Katuutire Kaura were also nowhere to be seen after the break. Overally, there were only 34 MPs with voting powers, prompting Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Doreen Sioka to call off the day’s session.
Prime Minister Angula said he left because he had to meet a special German emissary at 16h00. “It was a pre-arranged meeting and when I came back (to the National Assembly), everyone was gone,” he said.
Dinyando says he received a call telling him there was an urgent meeting at the Ministry of Information’s headquarters. He refused to divulge the nature of the meeting he purportedly attended.
Kaura, who was reportedly seen chatting to Tjiriange outside the chambers while other MPs waited for them to rejoin the legislature inside, said he had visitors at his office and could not be in the NA. “I had chiefs from Opuwo so I was attending to them,” he said.
Tjiriange admitted to have had a ‘chat’ with Kaura while others were inside the chamber. “I left for the loo and on my way back I met Katuutire and we were chatting for sometime. We later saw people coming out, saying there is no quorum,” he said.
Ndaitwah’s personal assistant said the minister travelled out of the country that evening.
Mudge said, as the only MP for his party, he is faced with the challenge of dividing his time between parliamentary and party responsibilities. “I’m dealing with campaigns and other party commitments, so I am not always at parliament,” he said.
It seems that at a time when the country is facing an undeclared national disaster due to the floods in the north, MPs, whom the electorate look up to for the formulation of crucial legislation and Government interventions, could care less even after getting the hefty salary pay rise.
UDF’s //Garoëb said he was delayed in the cafeteria and by the time he came out, people were leaving.
CoD MP Kavari said: “I had an appointment with someone helping me with a motion.”
For all their excuses, the lack of quorum at the National Assembly has become an endemic problem over the years. In October last year, the National Assembly did not have a quorum twice in two weeks.
In ditching parliament, MPs are yet to conclude on some of the vital legislative mandates. These include the conclusion of the Appropriation Bill, which will allow for the allocation of funds to meet the financial requirements of the State during the next financial year starting April 1.
The National Youth Service Bill, Communications Bill, Value-Added Tax Amendment Bill and the Teachers’ Education College Bill among others are awaiting deliberation and input from parliamentarians.
In 2008, Parliament failed to meet a quorum on four occasions. In an election year such as 2009, this is unlikely to auger well for parties with truant MPs.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2009 13:42|