National Assembly nears end of rules update


24-April-2009

Speaker HerminieThe exercise – funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – to revise the rules governing the procedures and conduct of the assembly was carried out to bring them more up to date with the Constitution and parliamentary practices in other Commonwealth countries.

Assembly speaker Dr Patrick Herminie said earlier this week only two pieces of legislation are still to be completed and approved.

One of them deals with immunity and privileges of assembly members, while the other concerns the running of the assembly, with its administrative and financial autonomy.

These are expected to be completed and approved during the second term of the assembly.
Among the rules revised are the code of conduct and dress code for parliamentarians and assembly staff, and rules of procedure for committees.

Dr Herminie said as part of these revisions new committees and rules to guide their duties have also been introduced. He said committees are very important in an assembly as far as exercising its constitutional role of oversight is concerned, to ensure the government functions as it should.

The UNDP project, which began a little over a year ago, also provided for training and capacity building of parliamentarians and assembly secretariat staff.

Dr Herminie said the aim is to have a secretariat that can support and meet the needs of the assembly.
This training is bearing fruit as remarkable changes can be seen in terms of the efficiency and capability of secretariat staff, he added.

Praising the UNDP project, Dr Herminie said it has provided training opportunities on a regular basis for assembly staff and parliamentarians with reputed international bodies like the European Union, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) parliamentary forum.

It has also allowed our assembly to be readmitted into the CPA and the SADC forum.
In terms of parliamentary diplomacy, Dr Herminie said our assembly has built close relations with other parliaments through various visits.

These were aimed not only at enriching our parliamentarians and staff but also helping to develop the institution.
Dr Herminie said he is encouraged by the improvement the assembly has made over the years, especially where the behaviour of parliamentarians is concerned.

He believes there is the will to move forward more seriously. But he stressed it will take time to change people’s mindsets, and many years will be needed to achieve the required results.
The important thing, he said, is to continue working on improving the framework of the assembly to make the necessary changes possible.

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