President Hage Geingob has advised MPs to travel for good reason, saying trips taken should show results in tangible benefits for the people of Namibia.
Addressing legislators at the official opening of the 7th Session of the 6th Parliament yesterday, Geingob said he has noticed, with concern, that local members of parliament had added ‘international constituencies’ to their list of responsibilities.
He said parliament as we know it, is described to be “sitting” or “in session” and not as a “travelling” Parliament.
Geingob’s advice comes at a time when a foreign travel ban for all senior government officials
was extended beyond the month of February in a move that has won him acclaim even from his local critics.
The announcement of the extension of the ban was announced by Geingob while addressing Cabinet last week. Geingob said government recognises the fact it cannot ban all foreign travel but the intention is to exercise control and to reduce the size of delegations.
He said in exceptional cases, invitations for statutory travel must be properly motivated, and approval thereof be weighed against potential value gain.
Speaking yesterday, Geingob said he has also learnt of the silent debate, as to whether all MPs are entitled to diplomatic passports.
He said while there is no law governing the issuance of diplomatic passports to MPs, a Cabinet decision was taken, to permit such.
However, he said, “I have discovered while conducting research on this matter, that in various parliaments across the continent and the world, not every MP carries a diplomatic passport.
“A diplomatic passport is not an entitlement. Rather, it is a tool to help facilitate diplomatic work, being carried out in the interests of the State. It is meant to enhance efficiencies and not to enhance prestige,” he stressed.
Furthermore, Geingob said he is aware that historically, parliament has struggled to obtain a quorum, resulting in delays in the execution of critical work.
He said now that he is out of parliament, he is able to follow proceedings live and he does observe empty seats, not only from the executive but also from both sides, including backbenchers.
“I am informed that backbenchers travel frequently as well,” he said. “Now that I have addressed travel in the executive, I am interested to hear what the legislature intends to do, to contain travel expenditure.”
Furthermore, Geingob said he is proud to have promoted long serving leaders, emanating from the youth structures, to full ministerial and deputy ministerial portfolios.
He said these include now Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Dr Peya Mushelenga, Minister of Information and Communication, Stanley Simataa, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise, Veikko Nekundi, Minister of Sports, Erastus Uutoni and last year’s appointment of Paula Kooper to the National Assembly.
Geingob reiterated that this is the year of reckoning and urged all youthful leaders to foster a culture of strong work ethic and zero tolerance, especially on violence against women and children.
“It is both deplorable and a painful reality, that women and children continue to suffer and lose their lives, at the hands of those they love and trust the most,” said the Head of State.
Meanwhile, Geingob yesterday announced the recall of Petrina Haingura from the National Assembly on grounds she had lost the position of secretary of the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) in 2016.