Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi during the opening
|Story by George Sanzila
Windhoek - Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Prof. Peter Katjavivi notes that parliament has continued to be an institution that champions participatory democracy. According to the Speaker, this is affirmed by the increase in the number of young people exercising their democratic rights of handing over petitions to parliament.
Hon. Katjavivi said this today (29/10/2020), when he officially opened an interactive dialogue between the youth and legislators. The dialogue is intended to discuss governance issues, challenges, best practices and sustainable solutions to youth development. The other aim is to strengthen collaboration with key youth networks in order to advance youth voices in the law making process.
Hon. Katjavivi noted that young people are increasingly getting involved in matters of national interest. “Young people in Namibia have continued to make themselves heard. We have witnessed many young people partaking in demonstration on a variety of issues affecting them. Perhaps the most prominent has been the protest that followed the disappearance of Shannon Wasserfall and the subsequent discovery of her mortal remains”, said the Speaker.
He said channeling their concerns through the legislature not only confirms participatory democracy but also faith in state institutions. “We have noted that amongst the various state institutions, youth are often confident in presenting their petitions to the doors of parliament. This reaffirms, that parliament continues to be an institution of participatory democracy. Its evidence that young people have faith in our parliament as an institution representing the views and aspirations of all Namibians”, stated Hon. Katjavivi.
The Speaker further stated that Parliament has also continued to create avenues for inclusion of young people in parliamentary affairs. “The National Assembly has successfully hosted 5 sessions of the Children’s parliament over the past 14 years. Young people from all 14 regions of Namibia form part of this youthful and enriching platform”, said Hon. Katjavivi.
The engagements have developed into policies and legislation, noted the Speaker. “During their term, they debate and adopt motions on pertinent issues related to young people and children. Their final report is tabled in the National Assembly and upon adoption forwarded to the relevant offices, ministries of agencies for implementation”, said Katjavivi.
The Speaker was also hopeful that the dialogue would create relationship between the youth and legislators to amplify both youth initiatives and help solve social challenges.
At the same event, Bience Gawanas, former special advisor to UN Secretary General on African Affairs urged the youth to actively engage legislators on a myriad of issues affecting them, including COVID 19, unemployment, Gender based violence and Sexual Reproductive, health and rights among others. She noted that the oversight function of parliament was very critical as it is aimed at holding government to account. She further called for inter-generational co leadership.
The African Union youth envoy, Aya Chebbi who is in the country on invitation to participate in the Dr. Theo Ben Gurirab lecture series echoed similar sentiments adding that without inter-generational co leadership, development would be impeded. She also revealed the launching of a report entitled “Greater inclusion of African youth in public service and governance”, that has made many recommendations for youth inclusion including the adoption of a youth quota.
The dialogue is organized by the National Assembly Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social and Community Development together with the National Youth Council and the Namibian chapter of the Africa Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health (AFRIYAN).