Opinion – Legislative power and parliamentary democracy in Namibia
Parliament must be the unequivocal state body which aptly represents the needs and aspirations of all Namibian citizens. Parliament is made up of politicians who have been elected by the electorate according to a system of proportional representation, which gives them the legitimate authority to represent the interests of the people. Therefore, it is the constitutional obligation of parliamentarians to rise up and advance issues of national concern without being redacted and denied of such essential national responsibility.
In short, “a parliamentary democracy is a system of government in which the citizens elect representatives to a legislature to pass the laws, policies and decisions necessary for the country”. This implies that the parliament is a direct representation of the people. Fundamentally, in a constitutional democracy, a “genuine” separation of powers is necessary to promote justice, fairness, accountability, transparency and good governance.
The three arms of the state, although intersected, should perform their respective functions without influence, without constraint and independently of each other. Constructions in which the legislature and the executive are virtually inseparable undermine and undo the principle and foundation of democracy and, by implication, the purpose and function that parliament was meant to serve. The unitary character of the state could not necessarily justify the maintenance of the current political arrangement. This political arrangement undermines service delivery and effective governance.
Some might argue that many African legislatures have taken the form they are today because that is the constitutional requirement. While this argument appears to be compelling, the questions are: who made the constitution? Is the constitution set in stone? Who has the power to change the Constitution? This article argues that, if there is anything that prevents government institutions from successfully providing equitable services to the population, this obstacle must be identified and corrected.
Therefore, when politicians sit in both the legislature and the executive, it would undermine and contradict the principles of justice, fairness, accountability and transparency, to say the least. Structurally, one cannot pass laws and policies (legislature) and “ambush” the same on the other side, in terms of implementation (executive). It is not prudent for the executive and, by extension, cabinet ministers to be members of the legislature. The only justification is to modify article 35 of the constitution to give rise to a true separation of powers.
It will allow the president to appoint cabinet ministers who are not members of the legislature. It promotes justice, equity and serious and impartial attention to societal problems. It would also minimize corrupt practices and bad governance, thus reassuring good governance as each state organ “stays in its way”. You don’t have to be a politician or administrator to understand the conundrum and challenge presented by Article 35 of the constitution, in terms of law, policy making and implementation.
While all three branches of state are constitutionally bound to perform balanced and impartial functions, in a representative democracy the legislature should have the upper hand because this is where “democracy, rule of law and guidance begin.” governmental ”, whether in terms of policies, laws, ratification of international conventions, etc. Logically, parliament should not be both “the player and the arbiter”. The executive should not be part of the legislature because it undermines the functions of control and accountability. Parliament regulates and deregulates important socio-economic matters in terms of legislation and policy making, oversight and control, and enforcement of accountability. When the executive is inseparable from the legislature, it can result in a great deal of loss in the translation and implementation of government policies.
It generates systematic corrupt practices and a biased application of government policies and programs. Ultimately, this structural arrangement places the executive in a “comfort zone” due to ineffective control procedures.
In other words, it is a deliberate practice and an opportunity offered by the constitutional provisions to promote the interests of the few at the expense of the poor majority.
The article postulates that the Constituent Assembly could not have intended to have a constitution that would distribute more powers and dual functions in the hands of the so-called elites or a few individuals, but perhaps a situation in which laws and policies are encouraged in an inclusive manner to promote the general interests and aspirations of people. From the outset, the true separation of powers could have made this practice sustainable. It is irrefutable that the Namibian Constitution was adopted at a time when everyone’s mind and heart were focused and yearned for freedom and independence. Thus, the constitution in place today is a document of compromise and mutual settlement to achieve independence for Namibia at the time.
Realistically, it might have been possible to go back to the constitution, especially during the early years of independence and autonomy, to reflect on and do diagnostic examinations and inquiries into the constitution and revisit some provisions that hindered delivery. of equitable service.
A cautious approach to this exercise could have identified and corrected any shortcomings the company faces today. This exercise could include a reflection on the feasibility of certain provisions of the constitution in relation to the reality on the ground, or even call for a referendum to assess the views and opinions of the governed.
The question, then, is whether it is insurmountable to amend the constitution and modify provisions that have direct implications for the development and implementation of policies, accountability and transparency procedures, and acceptable governance. .
Any political establishment, especially the ruling party that holds the key to decision-making and governance, could be questioned for poor service delivery, especially when these obstacles are the result of laws or political differences. . The reluctance of this one insinuates a philosophy of politically repudiating the masses the possibility of prospering, while allowing the power which is a deliberate and unfair advantage to continue to benefit from what are called “legal constitutional provisions”, which could have been amended and corrected for the benefit of all. , if the political will to do so prevailed.
This article concedes that the constitution is the supreme law of the land, therefore, must be treasured and upheld. However, it appears that some of the provisions of the Constitution “draw a line in the sand” and relegate society to the periphery of life and livelihoods.
Ultimately, these constitutional provisions have created a situation where, if you open your eyes and read between the lines, more power is concentrated in the hands of a few when there is no distinction between the executive and the the legislative. Thus, to improve accountability, transparency and make governance effective and inclusive, it is necessary to amend Article 35 of the Namibian constitution, including all other constitutional provisions that hamper inclusive socio-economic arrangements.
This will give practical effect to Article 41, Chapter 7, and will also apply Article 1 (2) according to which “all power shall be vested in the people…” and allow maximum respect and application of Chapter 3 of the unfettered constitution. In the halls of power, this may seem like an unexplored consideration, but not a tall order to fill.
People should rule more supreme and be sovereign, and therefore the constitution should reflect their desires and aspirations.