Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi addressing the Assembly today (16/10/17)
|Story by George Sanzila
St. Petersburg, Russia - Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi has just spoken at the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly underway in St. Petersburg, Russia. Hon. Katjavivi is participating in a general debate that is centred on “Promoting cultural pluralism and peace through inter-faith and inter-ethnic dialogue”.
The Speaker, who hailed Russia for having offered refuge for countless Namibian freedom fighters during the days of the struggle for independence, implored that there was a great need for tolerance in the world today and Parliaments had a role to play to change the status quo. “I want to pay tribute to this great country of Russia. It provided logistical support to our freedom endeavors and has continued to be our important partner post-independence. The world we live in today has so much intolerance, conflicts and a radical interpretation of faiths. This calls for our various Parliaments to do what we can to ensure that we accommodate each based on cultural pluralism”, appealed Katjavivi.
Katjavivi noted that Namibia herself being a victim of colonial domination and apartheid has forged ahead and put in place mechanisms that are anchored on social justice and fundamental human rights, post-independence. “In Namibia we emerged out of colonial domination and apartheid system that was built on division of the people along ethnic and racial lines. In independent Namibia we put emphasis on fundamental human rights and freedoms, protection of life and liberty and forging unity in diversity”, stressed Katjavivi.
In efforts aimed at harmonizing national laws for better protection of human rights for all including disenfranchised citizens, Katjavivi said the country through stakeholders has been tirelessly working in collaboration with various traditional authorities. “The University of Namibia (UNAM) recently undertook to ascertain customary law. This project endeavored to ensure that laws relating to all the various traditional authorities in the country are aligned with the national constitution. The traditional authorities took this initiative as a major project and started revisiting their customary laws”, noted Katjavivi.
According to the Speaker, democracy encompasses fundamental epitomes that are important to the welfare of all people regardless of their class, gender, race or ethnicity. “Parliament is a representative of the people across the board from elites who argue democracy in terms of functional institutions to the most humble citizens who argue democracy in terms of having a roof over their heads and food on the table. Democracy encompasses all these ideals and values”, stressed Katjavivi.
He further called for the restoration of human dignity in Western Sahara and Palestine. “The world is so badly in need of morals and values. In this regard, the situation in western sahara and the suffering in Palestine amongst others, should not be forgotten”, appealed the Speaker.
The IPU Assembly that was founded in 1889 is a global organization of Parliaments around the world that brings together lawmakers to identify international challenges and make recommendations for action. There are currently 173 members and 11 associate members of the IPU and Namibia comprises this composition. It is the biggest gathering ever for the Assembly this year with more than 160 delegations and 96 Speakers.
The assembly ends on the 18th of October 2017.