Hanse-Himarwa tears into Smit over education bill comments

10 Oct 2018 19:30pm
WINDHOEK, 10 OCT (NAMPA) – Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa on Wednesday tore into Popular Democratic Movement Parliamentarian Nico Smit over comments he made in the National Assembly over the draft Basic Education Bill, which he branded “undemocratic”.
Delivering his input on the Education Bill in the august house, Smit expressed his disappointment in what he referred to as 'something so autocratic, so undemocratic and so draconian, it’s unreal'.
The politician is of the view that the draft legislation has a hidden agenda as it allegedly does not reflect the input, concerns and proposals made during the consultative process.
“This strengthens my feeling that it is easy for this government to pretend to listen to the people, to create the illusion of caring about the people and then ignore whatever is suggested that does not further its own agenda,” Smit charged.
He said the Bill has intruded on areas in education that do not need “fixing”. This, he suspects, is because the ruling Swapo Party, through its government “wants to tighten the grip on the teaching sector”.
“This exclusion of inputs received during consultations with stakeholders means that the ministry wants to impose a predetermined outcome on the public,” he said.
Smit said the Bill should not concentrate on disciplinary measures while paying scant attention to burning issues such as effective teacher training.
These comments did not sit well with Hanse-Himarwa, who felt that Smit’s comments were an attack against her person.
“That Bill did not walk into this house by itself. I brought it. You are the last person to criticise that Bill. You are the most dishonest person I have ever seen. You are a Koevoet, nonsense [sic],” Hanse-Himarwa told Smit.
‘Koevoet’ refers to the counter-insurgency branch of the apartheid South West African Police.
Economic Planning Minister Obeth Kandjoze stepped in to calm down Hanse-Himarwa, however, his efforts were in vain as the education minister continued venting her anger.
“I want to remind the honourable Koevoet member that the artificial concerns that he is showing today in the Bill is the rectification and justification and correction of the skewed Bantu education that he and his system created,” a clearly agitated Hanse-Himarwa said.
Smit interjected: “You are a disgrace to this house!”
Hanse-Himarwa retorted: “You are one hundred times a disgrace to this house!”
It was at this point that Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila entered the fray, calling on both Smit and Hanse-Himarwa to desist from using vulgar language.
“I want to appeal to all the people that are involved to please put aside these attacks…whether it is an attack against the person or the Bill. If there is a shortcoming in anything that comes to the house, point out that shortcoming. Put forward your alternative proposal,” she appealed.
If passed into law, the Basic Education Bill will replace the Education Act of 2001 to better reflect Namibia’s development aspirations, the education minister said last month.