Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek – Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi has thanked the World Bank for its continuous support in the legislature’s quest for digital transformation.
The Speaker met the World Bank Country Director, Marie Marie Nelly recently to gauge progress made thus far with regards to the e-parliament strategy. The World Bank has been involved in developing a comprehensive e-parliament strategy for the Namibian parliament.
Hon. Katjavivi noted that networking between the two institutions has come a long way culminating into an “Agenda for change”. “The Agenda for change refers to certain strategic interventions suggested right from the rein of the first Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Mose Tjitendero and from his successor, Dr. Theo Ben Gurirab through to recent years, as being important pathways to transform the Namibian Parliament and bring it in line with other parliaments around the world”, said the Speaker.
According to Hon. Katjavivi, the advent of COVID 19 has forced parliament to look at innovative ways of conducting its business. “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in our systems at parliament, especially the digital component of administration. Therefore, we saw the urgency to reinforce our systems, especially with e-parliament, so as to strengthen the country’s efforts towards attaining the targets of Agenda 2030 and beyond”, he noted.
Among the many other envisaged plans that are encompassed in the agenda for change strategy are the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee on the budget. The proposed Budget Committee has already been approved by Parliament. Improved library services are also expected as a result of digitalization. The German Bundestag recently trained Parliamentary Researchers and plans are afoot for a follow up comprehensive training before the setting up of a fully-fledged Parliamentary Research Department.
Speaker reiterated that the latter components are critical in the e-parliament concept. At the same meeting, the Speaker revealed plans to construct a Parliament Museum and Information Hub that would be replete with artefacts and interactive digital information display systems for posterity.
According to Hon. Katjavivi, the long held dream of detaching parliament from the Public Service Commission could also be realized soon. “Discussions are ongoing to delink from the Public Service Commission, restructure guidelines and benchmark with the Judicial Service Commission and to set up an appropriate entity for parliament. The two Secretaries of the National Assembly and the National Council are engaged with the Draft Bill”, stated the Speaker.