Nepal: German MPs Stress on accountability of leaders

TGW Correspondent

Three members of parliament of German Bundestag visited Gaindakot, February 14, 2013, to remain abreast with the local democratic process of Nepal. 

On that occasion FES Nepal office in cooperation with Sahamati, an NGO, organized an interaction program between German Parliamentarians Johannes Pflug, member of Foreign Affairs Committee, Karin Evers-Meyer, member of Defense and Budget Committee and Holger Ortel, member of Agriculture and Transportation Committee of Bundestag and local leaders of Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts.

Addressing over 60 participants, Johannes Pflug explained the purpose of the delegation visit which had been to give a boost to political parties and enable them to solve the current stalemate.

He touched upon the difficulty of political transition of South Asian countries including Nepal. He added, democracy thrives in moderate space. Unfortunately, this space is squeezing due to rise of undemocratic elements.   Extremist forces are trying to weaken both democratic space and the state. In Nepal, political parties have to play constructive role to make politics responsive to the citizens’ demands and make social contract, a working constitution binding to all sides. We all three MPs have started our career with local politics and helped our people to address their needs such as health, education, sanitation, jobs, infrastructural  and development needs. National politics should have strong base in local ecology, politics, economy and society. He promised to fight in the German parliament for the possible support for Nepal’s democratic, development and peace initiatives. Big parties should support the smaller parties after election and tell them how can we help you and how can we work together. We would like to compromise. They should work together for the resolution of practical issues based on ground realities. Recovery of Nepal’s post-conflict condition also requires extensive public works and creation of opportunities for youth, poor and unemployed for works. Ideology only operates at theoretical level which too is revised once reality is changed. On behalf of German MPs he expressed thanks to Nepali hosts for the warmness they extended to them as well as enabling them to know the local conditions.

Karin Evers-Meyer, who immensely contributed to a medium-sized Sahaj Community Hospital said that she started politics from grassroots level and supported the community upliftment projects. Then she got elected at the district for mayor ship. She suggested the Nepalese leaders to organize the election of the parliament and local bodies so that it would be easier to monitor the performance and functions of the government.  In Nepal also, she found people conscious of their rights and added that they can make the leaders accountable in solving their problems. Government is an instrument to improve people’s living standards. Nation-building can be completed only when women play pro-active role in public affairs and politics and influence public policies, Mrs. Karin observed.

Another speaker Holger Ortel said that for the development of your villages there is no need for you to become a member of any political party—UML or Congress. You have to avoid extreme partisanship and overcome ideological obsessions. Good education helps to understand and solve problems. But what is important in politics is common sense which is possessed by every individual. 

FES, GIZ and other development organizations should contribute to local development, said Mr. Ortel.

These agencies can only show you the ways of development based on international experience, but you have to decide what is right for you. Local governance is generally based on the principle of subsidiarity, that is, decisions have to be taken at the local level. People should be the end of development and then comes the nation. You have to broaden your understanding to get cooperation from others. People have rights to put their demands on the government.  The earning classes have to pay the tax and the government should increase the budget on education from 10 to 15 percent of the national budget.

Dev Raj Dahal, Head of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Nepal office introduced the theme about social transformation in Nepal and said that Nepal sought to achieve transformation in five domains—context, discourse, issues, rules and actors.  He said that Nepalese leaders and attentive public are using various terms-social change, social transformation and revolution to describe Nepal’s shift of regime power without knowing their deeper meaning and without creating preconditions. It was, therefore, difficult to consolidate change as political leaders failed to transform sovereignty to people, make politics public and transform diverse people into impersonal equal citizens. Consolidation of change requires modernization in five key areas—education, economy, technology, organization and leadership behavior, accountability and responsiveness. Only transformational leadership  is capable of sustaining the change and balance three groups of rights-individual, group-specific and human rights-and steer the nation’s politics in responsive direction. He said at the moment there is only governance, not elected government of the people at the local level. Active citizenship can help achieve local government elections and address the concern of citizens for education, health, irrigation, jobs and other daily necessities of life. 

The presentation was followed by lively discussion. Among the participants were Susma Bajracharya, Chau En-Lai Shrestha, Badri Nepal, Radha Chapagain, Padma Prasad Ghimire, Bhuvan Ale, Rajiv Neupane, Laxmi P. Khatiwada and Karun Sagar Subedi.

Bhim Prasad Sharma, Chairman of Sahaj Cooperative Hospital, thanked the German parliamentarians for sparing their time with them and sharing their experiences with the local people, supporting their initiatives and sharing concern for development. He thanked Karin Evers-Meyer for supporting the Sahaj Cooperative Hospital and FES for supporting the program.

 

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