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There is a need to narrow the gap between the electorate and the legislature-Speaker

Speaker of the National Assembly Hon Prof Peter Katjavivi, and the Head of EU delegation to Namibia, Sinikka Antila were amongst various stakeholders who attended the Visibility and Stakeholders Engagement event.

 

  Story By Rafael Hangula

WINDHOEK- The Enhancing Participatory Democracy in Namibia (EPDN) Programme yesterday held a Visibility and Stakeholders Engagement workshop with key stakeholders at Parliament Building.

The event which marked an early stage of engagement of the EPDN Programme stakeholders aimed at facilitating exchange of information between the stakeholders about the EPDN Programme, status of its implementation and the key issues to drive the engagement and dialogue, as well as on how to go forward with the initiative for enhancing participatory democracy in Namibia.

EPDN is a partnership programme between the government of the Republic of Namibia and the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening collaboration and coordination between Parliament, Government bodies and Civil Society Organisations in Namibia in the implementation and oversight of public policies and programmes.

Speaking at the event, Speaker of the National Assembly Hon. Prof Peter Katjavivi said that democracy is at the center of Namibia’s governance, and more importantly at the work of parliament.

“Democracy is all about ensuring that the voices of our people must be heard through the legislative process. It is of great importance that parliament and our government institutions create a platform that will enable the public to actively participate in the work that we do to enhance effectiveness in the execution of our mandate,” said Katjavivi.

 

The Speaker added that there is a need to narrow the gap between the electorate and the legislature in order to ensure efficiency and effectiveness of the oversight role.

“We need to take the work of parliament closer to the people, in order for the public to have easy access to information, easy access to the bills tabled and debated in the House, access to the work of our Parliamentary Standing Committees and robustly hold the Executive branch accountable, by assisting Members when conducting their oversight roles,” he emphasized.

Speaking at the same event the Head of the EU Delegation to Namibia, Ambassador Sinikka Antila said that a common basis of knowledge is needed between the legitimate stakeholders in any democratic society in order to translate all relevant development plans and programmes into action.

“For Namibia to prosper, we need a strong civil society, strong private sector, and a strong, transparent and accessible parliament. Good governance can be achieved by working in partnership based on mutual trust and accountability,” said the Head of EU Delegation to Namibia.

Civil society representative and the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood commented about Namibia’s moderate democracy and accommodative environment for civil society operation.

He underlined that sustainability and narrow operational are among the key challenges civil society is faced with. He emphasised that civil society and government need to overcome their mutual suspicion, adopt a constructive working together and alliances are needed to overcome the challenges of the 21st century. Programme Team Leader Getinet Gadena at the same occasion said that through institutional arrangements and numerous Programme activities, they are working on increasing the capacity of stakeholders to collaborate and coordinate more effectively in the oversight and implementation of public policies and programmes.

“Since the start of the Programme operation in November 2020, we have laid the institutional foundations through establishment of operational systems and working relationships as well as conducting a series of consultations,” said Gadena. In the discussion that ensued, participants emphasised various aspects to be taken into consideration such as Civil Societies Organisations to have desk officers to help parliament monitor developments.

Financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the contract for the EPDN Programme started in July 2020, and is expected to end in June 2025.

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