By Eliaser Ndeyanale
THE Speaker of National Assembly Prof Peter Katjavivi, last week Thursday cautioned ministers against constantly abandoning their duties of representing Government in Parliament.
Acknowledging that non-attendance of ministers hurt critical House business, the Speaker said that when ministers are not attending Parliament sessions, the House could not conduct business effectively as questions posed to them had to be postponed continuously.
”This attitude of ministers not coming to the House to answer questions is sending a wrong message. The chief whip must inform this House in an event where a minister will not come to the House to answer questions,” he said.
Since the House resumed last month, business has been crippled by poor attendance by both backbenchers and ministers, however, those that failed to pitch up to answer questions last week Mines minister Obeth Kandjoze, his deputy Kornelia Shilunga, Higher Education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi, her deputy Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, Health minister Bernard Haufiku and his deputy Juliet Kavetuna and Environment and Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta and his deputy Tommy Nambahu.
DTA Member of Parliament Nico Smit also complained the absenteeism of ministers asking it was fair for ministers to dodge questions.
”Honourable Speaker, there is a problem here. Last year and this year some of my questions lapsed as ministers responsible (to attend to the questions) did not turn up to answer my questions. Is that fair?” he quizzed.
Katjavivi responded saying he would ensure that all questions are answered. Those who also failed to come to the National Assembly were Home Affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Erastus Utoni, Defence minister Penda ya Ndakolo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, International Relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, her deputy Maureen Hinda. Earlier this year President Hage Geingob approved to give Members of Parliaments, who among others want a new Parliament building and a government-run village, six percent salary increase just a few months after approving huge increases for their water and electricity bills.
Without the six percent increase, a minister earns N$78 000 per month. An ordinary National Assembly member earns about N$51 000 per month. They are entitled to a number of allowances include transport allowances ranging from N$78 000 to N$106 000 for officials without State vehicles while ministers and deputies have Mercedes Benz vehicles. The MPs also enjoy furniture allowances, entertainment, clothing and electricity allowances.
Approached for comment on Monday this week, Swapo party deputy chief Hambyuka Hamunyera said MPs should respect Parliament sessions.
”What we try to do is remind the honourable MPs to obey rules of attending Parliament. Constitutionally they are obliged to attend Parliament sessions on Tuesdays to Thursdays. However if they continue to be absent without valid reasons for 10 consecutive days, by the fifth day we reprimand them because after 10 days they will become non-members. ”In this case, we report to them to their respective parties that we have a vacant post because the MP is not abiding by the rules. I am also cautioning those that show up five minutes prior to assembly adjourning, meaning they only stay for five minutes. The caution equally goes to those that only stay for several minutes before leaving while Parliament is in session,” he said.
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