Anger is brewing among some Swapo Members of Parliament over the party’s stance of censoring them in parliament.
According to some Swapo legislators who spoke on condition of anonymity in fear of being victimized, accused Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila of giving them orders not to ask questions to ministers tabling bills because they are from the ruling party.
“We are told that we need to be fast to pass a bill because the President wants to sign into law as soon as possible,” a legislator said.
They are also accused Kuugongelwa-Amadhila of hijacking chief whip, Evelyn Nawases-Taeyele’s role by chairing parliamentary caucuses, which according to them its the chief whips role to chair parliamentary caucuses as is the norm in other countries.
The parliamentarians accuse the Prime minister of giving them instructions, writing letters asking to meet with the ruling party’s MPs, leaving Nawases-Taeyele with nothing to do.
“Some of us are competent. It doesn’t mean that when we are quite in Parliament we don’t have views. The platform is not there. You say something in caucus you told this is caucus; you say something in public you are told about disciplinary hearing.
“If you are a minister you cannot question a bill for example because you are apparently from cabinet so you could have asked questions at Cabinet meeting. We are frustrated, sometimes you don’t want to go to Parliament because your presence there will not making any difference.
“If you compare our parliament with Parliaments of other countries, there is a difference. We are a joke. Where have you seen a bill passed within a month? In other parliaments after a bill has been discussed in the National Assembly, it is referred to a parliamentary standing committee to solicit public opinions.
“Now we are closing on November 29 and we have four bills to pass before that date, when are we going to get inputs from the citizens? Our parliament needs some serious mind,” a legislator said.
Contacted for comment, Nawases-Taeyele did not confirm nor deny the allegations. In her response she said that Swapo displays democratic principles in Parliament.
“My office has an open door policy that encourages openness and transparency. The Members of Parliament that approached you know that those are the core values of the office of the chief whip,” she said.
She added that the Prime Minister is mandated by the constitution of Namibia article 36 to be leader of government business in Parliament and Swapo parliamentary caucus meetings are held in the spirit of consensus leadership so that Members of Parliament do not put the party in disrepute and that they steer their debates in line with the party manifesto.
“In short, caucus meetings empower MPs to voice their views and concerns through questions and motions.”
In her response, Prime Minister said, “if there is an MP who feels that there is any deviation from the agreed arrangements in the way Swapo caucus meetings are held that concern should be raised internally.
“There is no motivation for PM to impose herself where she has no mandate,” she said.
Ironically, President Hage Geingob this month warned party’s parliamentarians who speak their minds in the National Assembly that they are on the party ticket.
“People were told to be independent and talk their minds, but you are on a Swapo party ticket. Not in your name. It is in fact this system. All of us who are in parliament are on a Swapo ticket. Swapo is a candidate, not you. We sit and look at the number of people to be in parliament. It is Swapo, not you,” he said.
Recently poverty eradication minister accused his fellow swapo politician Veikko Nekundi of disrespecting party policies after Nekundi criticized underperforming local authorities.
Kameeta said those who criticize government in the National Assembly should be disciplined at the party level.