WINDHOEK – Parliament had to postpone a session last week Thursday due to the lack of a quorum, because many of the MPs were out of town due to other commitments.
Last week only 35 out of the 78 MPs showed up of which three were non-voting members. The National Assembly needs 37 voting members to form a quorum. According to the National Assembly secretariat, the main reason for the non-attendance of MPs was the Southern Africa Development Community–Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) plenary session, which is underway in Arusha, Tanzania since last week Wednesday and which is expected to end tomorrow, as well as the Pan-African Parliament session underway in South Africa and which ends in about two weeks.
A group of five MPs each represents Namibia on these bodies. In addition, the two parliamentary committees, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and that on Human Resources, Social and Community Development are undertaking a joint mission to the Hardap and //Karas regions. The mission started on Sunday and is expected to conclude tomorrow. As is customary on Thursdays, Cabinet ministers are supposed to respond to questions asked earlier in the week by opposition party MPs. Moreover, parliament was also supposed to consider a report on the visit by another parliamentary standing committee to the drought stricken areas of the Ohangwena, Omusati, Otjozondjupa and Kunene regions. The report was tabled by the chairperson of the committee Ben Amathila on Tuesday and sparked a great deal of debate, especially on the issue of water provision and the distribution of drought relief food in the regions.
This led to Prime Minister Hage Geingob providing a comprehensive report on the situation on Wednesday, where he told parliament that no one has died so far in Namibia as a result of the drought. Amathila was supposed to respond to questions posed to him yesterday, while Justice Minister Utoni Nujoma was also supposed to contribute to the discussion on the report about the familiarisation visit by the same parliamentary standing committee to the Otjozondjupa Region. This is the second time that the National Assembly is failing to form a quorum this year. Deputy Speaker Loide Kasingo adjourned parliamentary proceedings to October 29.