Parliament building debate leaves much to be desired


One is compelled to pose a question in view of the current debate in the National Assembly regarding the building of a new parliamentary building at a cost of about N$2 billion.

I would not have thought that building a new parliamentary building is really a matter that should have been subjected to the current hollow and misguided debate shrouded in inviting the habitual schisms, this time around even within the governing party itself, governing as opposed to ruling because in a democracy any instance or individual does not rule but governs.

And to the usual purposeless, parochial and self-righteous  schisms  between the governing  party and the co-governing party (ies) as opposed to opposition parties, because as much the word opposition has become so debased and self-serving and out of context of the Namibian house and has been misdirected to mean opposing for the sake of opposing.

Also the so-called function of “opposing” seems to be arrogated to the so-called “opposition parties”, while in a democratic dispensation it is much the function of each and every member of parliament.

This includes members of the governing party, especially the backbenchers because the business of any parliament is no more and no less than to constructively direct the government of the day. This goes without saying for every member of the two august houses, irrespective of her/his political ticket.

But back to the issue at hand, one would have thought if the members of the august house are to sanely and soberly apply themselves, there can be no debate whether Namibia needs another parliament building or not. What does the needs assessment tell us? How such a need may have arisen is immaterial. What is relevant is whether there is a need for a new parliament or not. There’s no way such a need can by any reason be political in nature, but purely practical whether members, swollen as they are in numbers, can practically and realistically be housed in the given space and effectively deliver on their mandate. Once such a need has been established it cannot be a fait accompli that it must be built. It can on resources permitting. This again rings in another consideration whether given the finiteness and limitedness of the resources this is possible in the immediate period. Not only this, but whether the building in the short term, and even in the long term, is a priority over other priorities. These are the considerations that must have and should be directing the debate and what the debate in the house should have been all about.

But hitherto, like with so many other debates in the house, unfortunately, it has been difficult to follow what the debate in the august house is all about. Is it about whether we need another parliamentary building? Why? And when? And even how? Because the how does not touch on the affordability but also on the alternative housing of the honourables who now overpopulate the chamber that was only meant to house 72 but now has to house 96 members. Have any other alternatives ever been considered to be optimally used regarding the existing facilities, even to the extent of re-designing the existing ones to allow them to accommodate an increased number of the honourables, and for that matter make contingencies for their expected personal outwardly contractions given their expected physical expansions in view of the free breakfasts, lunches and dinners, courtesy of the attendant cocktails they would be expected to attend in their line of mandate and duty?  One  would really want to know whether there has been any cost-benefit analysis attached to the project, and what has been the outcome thereof?

The bottom line is that in view of the fact that the population of the members of this house has now swollen, proportionately or disproportionately, there can be no denial that surely one would not want to see them living in overcrowded conditions in the august house. Because this may mitigate against them delivering what the country needs them to deliver, good laws and informed, sober and purposeful debates, all ultimately in the interest of those they are meant to serve, the populace of Namibia. But, surely it does not mean that they can best serve the people in a billion Namibian dollars complex-cum-parliament. Both inversely and conversely, such a complex may also have the unintended effect if it proves more than a working station for the honourables but a jacuzzi of some sort, further inducing them into the slumbering that seems to have been stalking many, if not all, many a time while in the august house. But more pertinent and relevant is whether this is a priority for the country in view of the many pressing problems the country, after 26 years of sovereign reign, still has to act consequent and purposefully upon, if even one day she must redress the legacies of the past. The country has declared war on poverty, and this war is by no means an easy one. This is a war that the country needs to attack with the necessary onslaught; and all the resources she can mobilise; the willpower and determination it calls up and the energy it can generate.



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