11 February 2019

Namibia: Justice Before Reconciliation - LPM

BERNADUS Swartbooi says if he is elected the country's next president in this year's national elections, his newly registered party will focus on restorative justice before a policy of national reconciliation.

Swartbooi made these remarks during the official registration of the Landless People's Movement (LPM) as a political party in Windhoek on Friday.

Shortly after receiving the party's certificate from the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN), a jovial Swartbooi, in an interview with The Namibian promised massive governance changes that will result in the restoration of the dignity of the poor, the dispossessed and marginalised; the creation of employment for young people; and public sector reforms, amongst other things.

Swartbooi also threatened "massive civil unrest" if the results of this year's national elections do not go their way.

"We will have unrest like the world has never seen before, and it will not be business as usual", he stated.

However, he said if his party gets into power, they will restore the dignity of the poor and the dispossessed by giving them land taken from them during the colonial era.

He added that this would be done by giving land to the people living in informal settlements to build houses, and giving white-owned farms acquired during the colonial era to the poor and landless to produce food.

"The LPM is not first about reconciliation. We are about restorative justice first. We are interested in transforming lives. To those who have farms from the times of the German occupation to the Afrikaner occupation, we are going to share. We are not going to stand down and change our tune on the question of agricultural and commercial land simply because we need people's votes," he said.

The LPM leader further promised to change unjust laws which discriminate against the poor and the underprivileged if elected into power.

"We also do not believe in the rule of law. We believe in the rule of justice, and therefore any law that is not a just law will have to be subjected to the rule of justice. We will have to change those laws to ensure that laws are just and fair, and then we will believe in the rule of law," he said.

The scourge of corruption will be dealt with under the LPM government, "and many of the ministers will become bandits", Swartbooi stressed.

He said his party will soon release "all the commissions' reports" that will lead to the prosecution of corrupt ministers and government officials.

"They will come from the prison cells to the courtroom, and then they will go back to the prison cells. If they try to remove them, we will instigate new reports, as they are doing in South Africa," he warned.

On the reform of the public sector, Swartbooi promised to reduce the government from 26 ministries to only 13 ministries to be run by "competent people".

He said he will scrap the deputy ministerial positions, and will not appoint regional governors because "it is wastage".

The LPM will also encourage people who are 55 and above to go into early retirement so that their positions can be taken up by competent young people to reduce unemployment in the country.

"Why? This is because the civil service is too heavy, and the productive sector cannot get sufficient investment because about N$30 billion is spent on salaries. We need to get that money and invest it in productive and transformative economic sectors that will generate wealth and well-being for our people," he continued.

The ECN's chief electoral officer, Theo Mujoro, on Friday reiterated that the electoral commission will not implement the much talked about Voters Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) during this year's elections.

This was because of several technical problems observed with the current VVPAT model, and the lack of a sole supplier.

He added that the implementation of the model could also cost the electoral commission about N$130 million, money he said they do not have at the moment.

Mujoro refuted claims that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be tampered with to favour individual candidates.

He challenged those holding this view to prove to the public "that the EVMs can be pre-configured or manipulated to prejudice or favour any political party or candidate".

"These allegations and accusations are completely baseless, in our view. We feel that the EVMs have served this country well since inception. We have not observed or heard of a single incident or complaint about the EVMs around the elections that we have conducted so far," Mujoro stated.

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