Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek -The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi has noted that the legislature continues to reach out to the citizens through digital means. He stated that the COVID 19 pandemic that has disrupted normal lives has forced parliament to fast track its long held goal of digitalization also known as e-parliament.
Hon. Katjavivi mentioned this when he presented a statement during the 47th SADC Parliamentary Forum plenary assembly virtual session on the experiences and lessons from National Parliaments on strengthening accountability during the current health crisis. The assembly with over 100 delegates including seven Speakers of Parliaments was held virtually for the first time due to the Covid 19 pandemic.
According to Hon. Katjavivi all precautions have been put in place and alternatives such as technology have helped the institution to continue to fulfill its mandate. He said meetings and sessions have been held virtually including the tabling and passing of the Appropriation Bill, economic stimulus packages and emergency public health measures. Despite outreach programmes having been severely affected, the Speaker noted that members have continued to actively engage the executive on the floor of the house to ensure that parliamentary oversight continued unhindered
The Speaker says coordination between parliament, the Executive and other relevant stakeholders was imperative to help reduce the economic and social long term impact of COVID 19 particularly on the vulnerable and marginalized. He further implored national and regional research institutions to scrutinize the shared experiences of parliaments on their responses to the crisis in order to come up with a robust and collective response for the region. SADC-PF comprised of 15 countries, was established in 1997 at a SADC summit in Malawi to provide a platform to support and improve regional integration through parliamentary involvement and promote best practices in the role of parliaments. The assembly was held under the theme “The role of Parliaments in strengthening accountability during a pandemic: The case of COVID 19”. It ended today (11/10/2020).