By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK President Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to root out corruption and appealed to the whole nation to assist in the fight against the scourge. The president also addressed a number of other issues when he officially opened the third session of the fourth Parliament of Namibia. The public gallery was filled to capacity with representatives of foreign embassies and invited guests. Some Namibians followed the speech on a closed-circuit television in a special room at the National Assembly. “Two weeks ago, I inaugurated the Anti-Corruption Commission. This is part of our resolve to tackle and root out the evil of corruption from our society. I would like to once again call upon the entire nation and our lawmakers to render maximum support to the commission so that it can fulfil its mandate and reach the objectives that we as Namibians have entrusted to it through enabling legislation. I wish to commend our legislature for passing that landmark legislation, which will go a long way in promoting good governance, accountability and transparency in the country,” President Pohamba said. The Head of State said the opening of Parliament was one of those rare occasions where all the three branches of state, namely the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary came together. “Such a gathering should not be seen as a mere formality. It serves a deeper purpose and holds a deeper meaning in respect of our democratic traditions of governance. It is a reaffirmation of the system of checks and balances, which is embedded in our framework of governance and is also an expression of our nationhood, sovereignty and Independence,” he said “We enter the 16th year of our independence with the confidence that our institutions of governance are strong and that our tree of democracy has grown stronger and deeper roots. The challenge now is on all Namibians to redouble their efforts with a view to accelerating the implementation of policies and programmes that will expand socio-economic development activities, such as the eradication of poverty, provision of public goods and services and the creation of employment opportunities,” the President, who encouraged lawmakers to dedicate themselves to providing service to the Namibian people, said. Pohamba referred to the fact that many Bills had been passed last year and that many have already been signed into law. “The implementation of these laws should contribute significantly to the socio-economic development of our country. It is my sincere hope that the Communal Land Reform Amendment Act will provide added impetus to our efforts towards comprehensive and equitable land reform and distribution. Our main objective is to formulate laws that are in line with current realities and our needs, laws that the Namibian people deserve. Such laws should be forward-looking and geared to address the socio-economic needs of our nation,” he said. According to the President, in the history of nations, Namibia is still a young country. “In fact, we are still in the process of formulating relevant laws and regulations to regulate and govern our national activities in areas where appropriate legislation does not exist. We are also introducing laws that reflect and reinforce our democratic values and system of government. It is for this reason that we have repealed and continue to repeal laws that were inherited from the apartheid system,” he said. He also indicated that several other important Bills are expected to be dealt with during the current parliamentary session, among them the Combating of the Abuse of Drugs Bill, Casinos and Gambling House Amendment Bill, Electricity Bill, Financial Intelligence Bill, Telecommunications Bill, Planning Bill and others. “I would like to commend the Speaker and the chairperson of the National Council for the efforts they have made to make Parliament more accessible to the public. For democracy to take root in our country, we as leaders and policy-makers need to promote the involvement of the citizenry in the policy making process. In this manner they can develop a sense of ownership of the policies which will affect them. After all, our system of governance is based on the tenets of participatory democracy,” he asserted. The President also welcomed changes in the Parliamentary communication system to assist members in executing their daily tasks. He specifically praised the introduction of the Constituency Channel and Parliament Studios to foster better communication between Parliament and the rest of the country. “The popular ‘Parliament Bus’ continues to serve as an effective tool for taking Parliament to the people because it provides legislative information to our communities especially those in rural areas. I believe deliberate efforts should be made to facilitate the full participation of all our citizens in the process of governance and lawmaking. No one should be excluded, particularly our fellow citizens who are living with disabilities.” He urged Parliament to ratify the Continental Plan of Action for the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities that was adopted in 2002 by Heads of States in South Africa. “The ratification of that Plan will enable the Namibian government and all its organs to formulate and implement appropriate national policies, promote the full and equal participation of persons living with disabilities in the socio-economic development of our country,” the President said in conclusion.
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