National Assembly members on Thursday wished the country well, as they bid farewell to the seventh session of the sixth parliament, which started in September this year.
The National Assembly was officially scheduled to close for sitting on 25 November, however, due to many items in the order papers, a one-week extension was added to the sitting calendar to grant MPs ample time to deliberate on all matters in the order papers.
Bidding farewell to the session, MPs took a sober look at the year that has passed and paid tribute to those who lost their lives, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year saw a number of prominent leaders, including MPs losing their lives due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Last month, veteran MP Ignatius Shixwameni died after collapsing during a parliamentary committee meeting.
“Let’s not forget that it has been a difficult year for all of us. Millions of lives have been lost including some here in our house. As a ruling party chief whip, on behalf of government and the ruling party, I pay tribute to those who lost their lives. May their soul rest in peace,” said Swapo chief whip, Hambyuka Hamunyela.
“Merry Christmas to you all and a prosperous 2022,” he added.
“We have come to the conclusion of the year 2021. Yes indeed, it was not a good year. A terrible year indeed, we have lost a number of our colleagues,” said deputy speaker Loide Kasingo.
During the seventh parliamentary session, the August House debated and passed the Appropriation Amendment Bill, the State Finance Amendment Bill and Income Tax Amendment Bill. Two other Bills were withdrawn.
The house also engaged in hotly debated topics such as the Report of the Committee of Privileges on the disciplinary hearing of the two LPM MPs, and the draft Joint Declaration between the Republic of Namibia and the Federal Republic of Germany on the 1904 genocide.
At times, tempers frayed and Speaker Peter Katjavivi found it difficult to control the interjections and insults that flew across the aisles.
On 15 April, the public witnessed a brawl between security forces and parliamentarians belonging to the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) never seen before in the August House.
Security officials sprang into action after Katjavivi ordered them to evict a defiant LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi shortly after President Hage Geingob had delivered his State of the Nation address and was taking questions from the opposition.
While being escorted out of the House, Swartbooi also knocked off the ceremonial mace from its stand, leading to heightened tension inside the chamber.
It was at this point that his deputy, Henny Seibeb, ripped up a copy of the Harambee Prosperity Plan in front of the President’s bench.
Seibeb was shoved, carried and manhandled out of the chamber, forcing Katjavivi to suspend the joint sitting.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) leader and parliamentarian Mike Kavekotora described the chaos inside the House as totally unacceptable.
At the committee level, several standing committees conducted inquiries and public hearings on government institutions reports and topical issues referred to them by the House.
The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources held several public hearings about issues and concerns related to ReconAfrica oil exploration activities in Kavango East and West regions.
Furthermore, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender, Social Development and Family Affairs held a number of public hearings in the regions of Erongo, Omaheke, //Kharas, Hardap, Otjozondjupa, Oshikoto and Oshana. These public hearings related to the three petitions received by the National Assembly with regard to legalisation of abortion in Namibia as well as the call to liberalise or reform the current Abortion and Sterilisation Act No. 2 of 1975.
Due to a tight schedule and overloaded order papers, regional parliamentary committees’ inquiries, public hearings and stakeholders workshops were only conducted over the weekends. This was meant to ensure that MPs are available for the sitting of the House and daily committee meetings.
The next session resumes on 8 February 2022.