Cabinet has resolved that construction of a N$2,7 billion new parliament building will go ahead, despite a huge public outcry over the enormous cost of the project and a demonstration planned by the Affirmative Repositioning movement for 16 June.
Information and Communication Technology Minister Tjekero Tweya told journalists on Thursday that a Cabinet committee meeting chaired by Vice President Nickey Iyambo had given the greenlight for the project to go ahead.
“The Vice President highlighted the main issues of concern for government, which are also currently in the media, such as the food shortage (school feeding programmes), water shortage, drought, poverty and others, within the context of the proposed parliament building.
“The envisaged parliament building project dates back 20 years ago and has been postponed several times, due to other national priorities.
“The need for this project is underscored by the inadequacy of space (due to the increased membership of parliament), and escalating maintenance costs, due to the old infrastructure (over 100 years),” Tweya said.
He said the Cabinet committee had affirmed the principle that there is a legitimate need for a new parliament building to be constructed.
“The project is currently only in a planning and design stage, for which only N$12 million has been budgeted for in the current financial year.
“The committee recognised the various competing national priorities and constraints, such as the current drought situation, water shortages, and poverty in the country, as well as the current fluctuating currency situation,” Tweya said.
Quizzed why government was prioritising building a new parliament building instead of addressing the housing and water crisis, Tweya blasted journalists, saying they should stop wanting to be part of the design phase.
“I want to make it clear to all of you journalists; you people want to be part of the designing phase.
“The government will embark on the construction only after the feasibility study and resources have been made available.
“It’s like the whole nation is put in the pool of confusion,” he said.
“Colleagues, you need to understand that parliament is not a private project of MPs only, it is for the whole government, it is a future asset, it is for everyone,” Tweya added.
At the time of going to print, the AR leadership was still locked up in a meeting with Namibian Police Force Chief, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga over his decision to cancel their planned demonstration slated for next week.