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Workshop on Partnership between Parliamentary Standing Committees of the National Council and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)

Strengthening Democracy: The Crucial Role of Oversight in the National Council

On Friday, 1st December 2023, the Workshop on Partnership between Parliamentary Standing Committees of the National Council and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) was inaugurated by Kauma, Victoria Mbawo, Vice Chairperson of the National Council. Under the theme “Strengthening Parliamentary Oversight,” the event aimed to emphasize the pivotal role of oversight in parliamentary functions and underscore the significance of Standing Committees as vehicles for effective governance.

Session 1: Overview of the Role of CSOs in Namibian Democracy (10:20-10:40)

The event commenced with a comprehensive overview presented by a CSO representative, highlighting the profound contributions of Civil Society Organizations to the development of Namibia’s democracy. This session set the stage by underlining the symbiotic relationship between CSOs and the democratic fabric of the nation.

Session 2: Strengthening Strategic Parliamentary-CSO Collaboration for Effective Oversight (10:40-11:00)

The subsequent session delved into the strategic collaboration between Parliament and CSOs, particularly focusing on how this partnership can enhance the oversight function. Representatives from the Economic Policy and Development Network (EPDN) and the Department of Security Studies (DSS) shed light on the value of relevant evidence and information that CSOs can contribute to ensure effective oversight.Key points discussed included identifying the needs of CSOs in participating in Committee activities and understanding the collaborative efforts required to strengthen the oversight mechanisms.

Session 3: Plenary – Questions, Clarifications, and Discussion (11:00-11:20)

A crucial part of the event was the plenary session, where participants had the opportunity to seek clarifications, pose questions, and engage in discussions. This interactive segment fostered a deeper understanding of the nuances surrounding oversight and parliamentary-CSO collaboration.

Session 4: Committee Session with Sector-specific CSOs (11:20-12:00)

The event culminated in a committee session, bringing together sector-specific CSOs and committee chairpersons. This session aimed to identify and discuss matters of common interest, fostering effective collaboration between standing committees and CSO actors in their respective focal areas.

The Importance of the Oversight Function

The event underscored the critical role played by oversight functions in ensuring transparency, accountability, and the efficient functioning of the National Council. Oversight, as demonstrated through the work of standing committees and collaborative efforts with CSOs, acts as a safeguard against abuse of power and fosters a system where public resources are utilized judiciously.

CSOs as Catalysts for Democratic Development.

The overview of the role of CSOs in Namibian democracy highlighted the intrinsic link between a vibrant civil society and the health of a democratic nation. CSOs, through their advocacy, research, and community engagement, contribute significantly to the policymaking process and hold the government accountable for its actions.

Strategic Collaboration for Effective Oversight

The session on strengthening strategic collaboration emphasized the need for a symbiotic relationship between Parliament and CSOs. By harnessing the expertise and insights of CSOs, parliamentary committees can make well-informed decisions and contribute to the overall development and progress of the nation.

On the 1st of December 2023, Kauma, Victoria Mbawo, Vice Chairperson of the National Council, inaugurated today’s event. It served as a poignant reminder of the importance of the oversight function of the National Council. As the nation strives for continued democratic development, the collaboration between Parliament and Civil Society Organizations emerges as a powerful catalyst for effective oversight. The commitment shown by both entities to work in tandem ensures a brighter, more transparent, and accountable future for Namibia.