By Staff Reporter
What was initially suspected to be a parliamentary session to attempt to change the constitution in a bid to stop the resignation of public office holders aspiring to be members of parliament, turned out chaotic yesterday when the opposition walked out.
Almost 10 member of the opposition consisting of the PDM, NUDO, APP, UPM and RDP protested having to be recalled back into parliament by the Prime Minister via a text message.
However, deputy speaker of the House, Loide Kasingo, insisted that it was not the Prime Minister who had recalled them but the secretariat.
PDM President, McHenry Venaani would have none of it, insisting that only the President was constitutionally mandated to recall parliament.
However, the major source of disgruntlement was that the deputy speaker did not want to proceed with the “urgent matter” first before any other business, but rather conducting parliament in usual fashion.
The Speaker was abruptly interrupted by All People’s Party President Ignatius Shixwameni, demanding to know what the urgent matter was.
“It cannot be an ordinary session of parliament. We cannot entertain any other business,’ said Shixwameni on a point of order after which Venaani stood to concur with him.
Venaani said it was laughable that they had been recalled via a text message adding that the initial agreement was that parliament would only resume on Tuesday.
However, the deputy speaker said parliament was not in recession and that the session was only a continuation that had been recalled to discuss an “urgent matter”.
Shixwameni interjected, addressing the deputy speaker, “Arrogance has killed many”.
Contrary to initial speculation that parliament was poised to amend the constitution to undercut the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s demand that National Assembly aspirant holding public office must resign, the deputy speaker said the urgent matter was a bill that Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein wanted to present.
Parliament however continued with the business of the day as the parliamentarians walked out and caucused outside the House.
But that was not after PDM’s Vipuakuje Muharukua cautioned the deputy speaker against degenerating the House into chaos by failing to effectively control it.
Testing the spirit of the constitution
Presently, the ECN has maintained a solid stance against political forces.
Sources within the Landless People’s Movement admitted that some few members had been affected by the ECN stance although the party’s list remain unshaken.
By Thursday, Swapo’s Fransina Kahungu, a Councillor at the City of Windhoek had withdrawn her candidature from the list of aspirants to protect her job.
Although she was on the list of candidates, her chances of making it to the National Assembly were from slim to none.
Mandela Kapere resigned as Executive Chairman of the National Youth Council with Sharonice Busch mooted as successor.
National Council Chairperson Margaret Mensah Williams also resigned from her position as regional Councillor for the Khomasdal constituency.
With more resignations registered coming late Thursday afternoon from Swapo members such as Kletus Karondo, Bertha Diyando, Verna Sinimbo, Hafeni Ndemula, Veno Kauaria, Nono Katjingisua, Maria Elago, Modestus Amutse, Katrina Shimbula and Phillips Katamelo, this effectively means that Namibia will have no less than 5 bi-elections by January 2020.
Presently, reports are that the ruling Swapo party had complied to the ECN demands, putting to rest the entire fray over possibilities of amending Article 47.
This breaks an ironic combination Swapo had forged with opposition parties, uniting into a force which wrote ECN a letter disputing the mass resignations.
Muharukua also voiced his concern over Article 47.
“It is not right that the Electoral Act prevents a specific section of society from not partaking in elections in the form of being candidates.
That is not right. But at the end of the day, in 2014 when this bill was being drafted, the Swapo MPs were going on as they did. Just being led to the slaughter. And this is what is happening.
Now the country is being slaughtered simply because people are not doing the job that they are elected for. And simply because when we are raising issues and opposing issues, this governemnt and Swapo MPs think we are doing is just because we are from opposition parties. We do it because we are patriotic,” he said.
Rally for Democracy and Progress President Mike Kavekotora also had issues with the recalling of parliament purportedly by the PM.
He said the “mistakes” carried out at parliament this week shows that Swapo had something cooking behind the scenes.
“But where does the Prime Minister get the right to recall parliament? And that is a fact, she (deputy speaker) is not even addressing that factual issue. She is running around, and instead of doing the best professional way of apologizing for the mistake she has done… and as a matter of fact, how many mistakes does she make?
Yesterday they sent a letter on behalf of the Prime Minister, today they sent the same letter on behalf of the Prime Minister. These are simple matters that are being complicated by people who have issues behind the scene,” he said.
After all it is a time of elections and there is this whole hullabaloo about civil servants having to resign their positions.
So we thought that maybe there is something urgent that we are coming to listen to. Just to come to parliament and the lady who is the deputy speaker, just starts the procedure as usual.
And that’s why Honorable Shixwameni stood up and said this cannot be an ordinary session. It’s supposed to be an extra-ordinary session where by the deputy speaker is supposed to explain as to why we are here after all the Prime Minister by then was not even in the bench,” he said.
Regrouping outside the August House, Venaani said the country had plunged into a constitutional crisis a few weeks away from the critical November elections.
“It is a crisis of great propotions. Why? You cannot mix candidature with assumption of n office. There is a question of eligibility of the candidate and the assumption of office. If you read Article 47 of the constitution, the legislator intended to prohibit (members) to hold two offices while you are a member of parliament.
That’s the intention of the constitution writers,” said Venaani.