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JUBA - 11 May 2021

‘Some new MPs are not qualified for parliament’-activist Wani Micheal

A civil society activist says some of the members of parliament who were appointed by President Salva Kiir last night do not qualify to be in the august house. 

Wani Michael, the Executive Director of Okay Africa Foundation, who also sits on the National Constitution Amendment Committee (NCAC) as a youth representative spoke to Radio Tamazuj today.

“The president announced several names yesterday but unfortunately some of the names that were announced did not meet the constitutional requirements to be a member of parliament and we still do not know if they met the 35 percent for women because we haven’t got hold of the list,” Wani told Radio Tamazuj. 

He said the constitution was clear on the criteria and qualifications for a member of parliament. 

“The constitution is clear that there are constitutional requirements to be a member of parliament and one of them is that you should be literate. When you look at the names which have been announced, some of these individuals cannot read and write,” Wani said. “And this violates the constitution because the constitution says you should be literate. I am also aware that even in the previous parliament, some members could not read and write.”

He questioned how the illiterate legislators will scrutinize documents and debate contentious issues.

“Parliament is about passing policies, debate, and scrutinizing documents. So if you cannot read and write, how are you going to scrutinize these documents and how are you going to hold people accountable? You are going to discuss budgets. So if you cannot read and write, how do you contribute to the discussion around budgets?” Wani asked.

He however said the reconstitution of the parliament is good news and long overdue.

“This is long overdue because the agreement says that the mandate and duration of the parliament shall be concurrent with the one of the executive but now they are reconstituting parliament after one year and some months,” according to Wani. “The executive has been operating without parliament. So we are hoping that the new parliament will be able to pass policies and laws that will benefit the people. They should not be a self-centered parliament. They should not just be discussing issues that can benefit themselves and they become looters to loot the economy.”

About the 35 percent women representation, Wani said, “We have to follow up on the 35 percent. At this stage, we do not know whether they met the 35 percent or not because the list is not yet out completely so it is difficult to ascertain whether the 35 percent has been met but we hope that it will be met in parliament.”

He called upon the parties and the government to urgently reconstitute the Council of States because some sittings require both houses. 

“We want the new parliament to get its act together, start work and pass the bills for the transitional period and this time we need to see a very credible parliament that will hold the executive accountable. They should not be a rubber-stamp parliament. They should not be a parliament that speaks for the people who appointed them but a parliament that speaks for the people,” Wani said.

He also appealed to the peace partners to ensure that there is an adequate representation of people with disabilities at all levels