MPs want ‘break’ from parliament to campaign

Some lawmakers are asking for the parliamentary calendar to be adjusted to make room for political campaigns ahead of November’s National Assembly and presidential elections.

This comes after a near-empty National Assembly was adjourned last week for failing to meet a quorum.

Popular Democratic Movement chief whip Elma Dienda yesterday said the parliament should be dissolved during election times to allow politicians contesting to have an equal chance.

“Government resources [are] being used by MPs, including the executive … It’s uncalled for,” she said.

Dienda said a lot can happen before November and March, while the country is waiting for the new legislators to be sworn in.

National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) secretary general Joseph Kauandenge says mechanisms must be put in place to ensure MPs are given time off to campaign.

He says parliamentarians cannot be faulted for being absent, because in the world of politics it’s “dog eat dog”.

Joseph Kauandenge
Elma Dienda

Kauandenge says MPs’ absence have a negative impact on the work of the parliament, since many critical bills need to be finalised before November.


Meanwhile, United Democratic Front (UDF) vice president Dudu Murorua says MPs also need to meet other obligations to minimise voter apathy.

“Surely there is a need for reviewing the parliamentary calendar, since this is an election year, but it is equally important that we fulfil our political obligations,” he says.

Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) deputy president Kalimbo Iipumbu says party leaders need to allocate and delegate responsibilities in a manner that does not compromise the work in the chamber.

“We owe service to the very same people we are asking to vote for us,” he says.

Iipumbu says the parliament must, however, understand that election year is different.

“What happened this week is despicable and must be condemned. I was in parliament and we had to call it off because we could not make a quorum,” he says.

He suggests that parliamentarians work together to come up with workable schedules.

Landless People’s Movement chief whip Utaara Mootu says: “Although it is imperative for MPs to engage with their constituents and participate actively in the party’s activities, it is equally important that parliamentary duties are not neglected.”

She says MPs need to prioritise their tasks with time specifications.

Mootu says parliamentarians need to empower their support staff and parties to deal with party issues.

Henning Melber
Graham Hopwood


Political analyst Henning Melber says MPs often neglect the duties they are paid for and instead remain absent to campaign since they want to be re-elected.

“MPs are elected to represent a party and its voters in the National Assembly. For this they are paid not too bad, including generous fringe benefits.

“But it comes with duties and obligations, namely to represent the party and its electorate as lawmakers in the sitting of parliament,” he says.

He says absenteeism does not speak in favour of the country’s political culture and democratic governance.

Melber says the legislative backlog is a sign that lawmakers don’t earn the salaries they receive.

Institute for Public Policy Research director Graham Hopwood says the fact that quorums are not being met suggests that chief whips are either not doing their jobs or do not have the necessary authority to ensure attendance by MPs.

“I don’t think the parliament should adapt its schedule to accommodate election campaigning until later in the year. Campaigning can take place at weekends,” he says.

He says appropriation bills have dominated much of the legislative year so far.

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