National Council stronger, more resilient at 25: Mensah-Williams

08 Aug 2018 10:20am
WINDHOEK, 08 AUG (NAMPA) – The National Council on Tuesday marked its silver jubilee in the capital, highlighting 25 years of success, challenges, lessons learned and the legislative role it played.
National Council Chairperson Margaret Mensah-Williams said the NC’s journey to where it is, was not a walk in the park.
She pointed to a host of challenges, chiefly lack of its own chamber, under-funding and low salaries.
However, some of the challenges have been addressed such as the salaries of NC members, which were adjusted to the level of their peers in the National Assembly, she said.
Another challenge for the House was the separation of the administration from the National Assembly, she noted.
“There were proposals to have one secretary for both houses, but in the end there was a consensus that it made more sense to have separate administrations for the efficient running of the legislature,” she said, adding “you can’t be referee and player at the same time.”
Mensah-Williams further said the business of the National Council has over the years been characterised by members seeking practical solutions to problems people face daily.
Shortly after delivering her address, the chairperson responded to critics who say the NC has lost its relevance in recent times.
“There will always be those who say we are irrelevant. But actions speak louder than words. We are the first house to come out with a white paper. We brought in the motion on the removal of the Red Line, today it’s a topical issue. It is us who brought the issue of human and wildlife conflict to the fore,” she said.
Other notable achievements she pointed to was when the House of Review passed the Constituency Development Fund Bill, aimed at making direct budgetary provisions for constituencies, in 2015.
Moreover, since 2006, NC members have consistently declared their assets and business interests for public scrutiny, something worth commending, Mensah-Williams said.
“When I look back at how far the National Council has come, I realise that as Members of Parliament, we represent something bigger than ourselves,” she said, before adding that the onus is on the current NC members to leave behind a stronger institution than that which they found.
The National Council was inaugurated on 23 February 1993 by the then President of the young republic, Sam Nujoma.
It advises the National Assembly on any required changes to subordinate laws that result from law-making in the National Assembly. The National Council can also be tasked by the National Assembly to perform other tasks.