A meeting between Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Parliament took place today (24 January 2022), aimed as discussing collaboration between the two entities in Parliament’s role of oversight of public policies and programmes.
In her introductory remarks, Secretary to the National Assembly, Ms. Lydia Kandetu, underscored the need for such engagements, noting that it was important that a deeper collaboration is realized from events of this nature.
Due to its oversight role, Parliament is key in establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights, overseeing the effectiveness of the executive and ensuring transparent governance processes. To enhance this role, external support from other players such as CSOs, research institutes and think tanks provide the opportunity to enhance parliament’s effectiveness. Overall, CSOs can help Parliamentarians in holding the executive to account.
Secretary to the National Council, Adv. Tousy Namiseb stressed the need for a functioning relationship for the benefit of the electorate, further highlighting the provisions and powers of Parliament and Standing Committees as derived from the constitution.
The objective of the one-day workshop was to introduce the operating mechanisms for effective oversight to targeted members of the CSO community who are willing to collaborate with Parliament in the oversight of public policies and programmes. These include public participation in parliamentary work and access to Standing Committees of Parliament, an overview of parliamentary oversight framework including the legal basis of oversight activities, requirements for effective parliamentary oversight, understanding the role of CSOs in parliamentary oversight and how to foster this partnership.
A cross-section of about 40 CSOs operating in all 14 Regions of Namibia in attendance observed the fundamentals of effective parliamentary engagement and discourse as well as the rules of engagement with Standing Committees. They were equipped with what is permissible in parliamentary practice, the code of conduct for witnesses and those appearing before Committees to aid Standing Committee work. They were also guided on how to undertake specific and assigned roles for facilitating committee oversight activities.
ABOUT THE EPDN PROGRAMME
The limited resources available to parliaments in developing countries has motivated many parliaments to foster collaborative actions in support of Parliamentary oversight. The EPDN programme is therefore one such programme that aims to strengthen collaboration between CSOs, and Parliament in the oversight of public policies and programmes and thereby, enhancing participatory democracy in Namibia.