PDM concerned with conduct of parliamentary proceedings
By Jennifer Van den Heever
PDM,Chief Whip for the Official Opposition in the National Assembly
The Official Opposition in the National Assembly (Parliament) is deeply disappointed in the conduct of affairs in the National Assembly, in particular when it comes to issues pertaining to land.
Despite the National Assembly having previously adopted the position that discussions on issues pertaining to land would be put on hold until after the Second National Land Conference; two Bills with very direct land interests and application have been brought to the House during this current session.
First it was the Land Tax Amendment Bill and now the Urban and Regional Planning Bill. For the Speaker of the National Assembly to say that the Urban & Regional Planning Bill does not relate to land matters is at best an inconsistent application of an agreed on principle and at worst, a show of his bias.
It is completely unacceptable for the National Assembly to have principally agreed to the withdrawal of the Land Bill on the basis that it would be discussed after the Second National Land Conference. And further for the Swapo Caucus to have voted out a motion by Hon. Maamberua (Swanu) seeking to interrogate the Resettlement Program, on the basis that discussions should wait until after the Second National Land Conference, and then for the House to be directly confronted by land issues in piecemeal fashion through a variety of Bills i.e. Land Tax Amendment Bill and Urban & Regional Planning Bill.
Whilst we do not deny and fully accept that in a parliamentary democracy the will of the majority will often win the day, we would expect that the majority sees the same urgency and importance in holding the Second National Land Conference as it does in dealing with land issues in a piecemeal fashion.
The Official Opposition has no problem with the substance of the Urban and Regional Planning itself, we do however believe that the culture of stifling debate as and when it is convenient to some and then looking to bulldoze through crucial legislation on the very same issues the National Assembly has principally agreed would not be addressed (pending Second National Land Conference) severely weakens and compromises the integrity of the law-making process.
It is on this basis that we, RDP and SWANU objected to the Urban and Regional Planning Bill going into Committee Stage yesterday – 29 November 2017.
Land is an important and highly emotive issue in Namibia. It is an issue that must be addressed by looking at all its different dimensions and not only by randomly looking at those aspects that are convenient to some. By so doing, we are comprising the integrity of the law-making process in as far as land is concerned in Namibia.