Thursday 15 April 2021
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AR petition flops


…as parliamentary committee okays new parly
A parliamentary committee dominated by ruling party members gave its support this week to Government’s plan to spend over N$2.4 billion to construct a new parliament, despite widespread public criticism, The Patriot can reveal. The move in support of the new building comes just days before the deadline of 16 July set by civil movement group, Affirmative Repositioning. The recommendations in support of the new parliament building comes as no surprise, especially when considering the fact that Swapo Party lawmakers chairs seven of the eight National Assembly committees and they constitute an overwhelming majority to dominate discussions. The Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs which is chaired by backbencher Sebastian Karupu this week a submitted a set of recommendations to the Committee on Standing Rules, Orders and Internal Arrangements chaired by National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi in which it supports the widely-criticized public investment .
After receiving the petition on 16 June 2016, Katjavivi passed it on to the legal affairs committee which was supposed to delve deeper into the petition and consult the relevant stakeholders. The committee recommended that the construction proceeds because “The building of the new Parliament is imperative and necessary for both the two offices and the Chambers of Parliament, especially with the increased membership of both the National Assembly and National Council.” According to the legal affairs committee which is tasked with the mandate to review Bills, reports or take recommendations for changes to Bills, reports and issues that are referred to the Committee, the process of constructing a new parliament cannot be stopped because money was already spent. The committee is also legally mandated to receive of petitions lodged in terms of rule 83 of the Standing Rules and Order and deal with them in terms of these rules, the Committee can also establish sub-Committees, as it deems necessary to deal with Petitions on specialized topics, but this seems to have been ignored. It can also Conduct hearings on Bills referred to it deems it to be necessary, none of this was done. The Patriot has it on good authority that after the Karupu-led committee submitted the recommendations to the Standing Rules Committee on Wednesday, but the recommendations were allegedly shot down.
“The recommendations were rejected because we received information that the legal affairs committee failed to consult the relevant stakeholders such as the works ministry as well as AR. The committee did not even invite AR to listen to their side of the story seeing that they are the ones who submitted the petition to the speaker,” said a source in the standing rules. An attempt to get hold of Katjavivi to get information on the way forward proved futile as he did not answer his mobile phone. The committee further stated that the construction of the new parliament “will not and cannot start during the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework” due to financial constraints. “Parliament is to continue with consultations with external stakeholders and the Executive Branch of Government in the process of determining the impact of the building on the economy of the country,” the legal affairs committee said. It concluded by stating that the N$2.4 billion which is in the public domain remains a mere estimate.
“This amount remains an estimate as all options on the table and are to be considered with the view of finding possible cheaper ways of constructing the national parliament,” the committee stated. In its petition, the AR movement called on Government to address areas of high priority before the country can entertain discussions to provide comfort to elected office bearers. The servicing of urban land and housing delivery, improved education and health care for all, drought and the water shortages are the country’s priority areas, outlined the petition. “We await a written response from your good office within a month from the date of handing in of this petition. Honourable Speaker, the response or lack thereof in the period stipulated above will accordingly inform our further or future actions,” AR said. Days after the AR demonstration, Minister of Works and Transport Alpheus !Naruseb informed lawmakers that government has so far paid N$20 million on consultants who are working on the proposed new parliament.
Breaking down the figures, the minister said government spent N$3,1 million in professional fees for the feasibility study which included N$1,7 million paid to architects, N$770 00 to quantity surveyors and N$550 000 to engineers.
An additional N$17 million was paid to consultants for the concept design and development. That amount includes N$14,6 million which was paid to architects, and around N$3 million paid to engineers.

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