Otjiwarongo, Namibia – AWEPA organised a focus group, held in Otjiwarongo, Namibia on 10-11 August 2016, signalling the start of the second phase of the programme entitled Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle.
The two-day focus group drew participants from the Namibian Parliament, and provided Members of Parliament and staff members with the opportunity to reflect on the wealth of information that was gathered about their institution during the data collection phase in March and April 2016.
The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of Namibia, Hon. Peter Katjavivi, opened the focus group and emphasised the need for the Parliament to engage more actively at all stages of the budget process. In this respect, he called for stronger cooperation between the two Houses of Parliament concerning budgetary issues.
“The timing of this exercise could never have been better. This is because we have recently constituted our Joint Parliamentary Select Budget Committee in the parliament, and we are in the process of strengthening its mandate. This is an area that calls for both houses to combine efforts in order to ensure a smooth management of the institutional budget.”
Holistically, participants reflected critically upon their institutions’ current engagement in the national budget process, and identified areas of strength and weakness. The discussions were followed by a strategising session, during which participants reflected with great enthusiasm on the potential of their parliament to develop further, as well as expressing their interest in reflecting with their peers in the region on budgetary issues.
Hon. Bernhard Songa Sibalatani, Deputy Chair of the National Council, closed the focus group, highlighting the importance of engaging in discussions concerning budgetary oversight, and working towards truly improving parliamentary engagement.
The participants shared their experiences and efforts to engage more meaningful in the budget process. The quality and passionate nature of their debates – as well as Hon. Peter Katjavivi’s insistence on creating an “Institutional ‘Checklist’ for Joint Action” as the discussions proceeded – was instrumental in achieving the primary objectives of the focus group. The initiative to create the checklist clearly illustrates the will of the Namibian Parliament to significantly reform its engagement in the budget process.