Namibia: 'Swartbooi Is Dividing the Nation'

THE Landless People's Movement (LPM) should be condemned for calling founding president Sam Nujoma a thug.

This is according to former prime minister Nahas Angula, chairperson of the Sam Nujoma Foundation.

Angula says LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi had gone too far when he verbally attacked the statesman in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

"What that young man said in parliament is unacceptable and he must be condemned. It's totally uncalled for and I don't know why the speaker did not chuck him out from the house," he says.

Angula says if Swartbooi has something personal against the Nujoma family, he should not use parliament to settle it.

"Let's condemn the behaviour of Swartbooi, he is not uniting the nation, he is dividing the nation," he says.

According to Angula, parliament standing rules and order dictate a member should not mention the name of someone who is not a member of parliament, because they are not able to defend themselves.

Meanwhile, National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi yesterday at the beginning of the parliament session issued a warning to both Swartbooi and deputy leader Henny Seibeb, telling them to refrain from the behaviour displayed on Tuesday, or they would be evicted from parliament.

"In terms of Rule 124 (1), read with Rule 111, I issue you with a warning that if you do not refrain from the behaviour you displayed yesterday I will have you removed from this house. I keep on appealing to you to behave in a manner befitting a member of parliament to no avail," he said.

Katjavivi said the behaviour of the two opposition MPs was unbecoming of members of parliament, saying it was not the first time they behaved in such a manner, causing great disruption.

"When we were sworn in we subscribed to a code of conduct to which we must adhere, I will report these behaviours to the Committee on Privileges as soon as the committee is constituted to deal with these matters accordingly," the speaker said.

Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani said parliamentarians are entitled to make any statements on any matter, and no one is above the law.

"No Nujoma (founding president Sam Nujoma), no any other person in this country is above the law. There were instances when Nujoma also insulted other people at public and political rallies. So president Nujoma is a political being, yet to be judged by society," Venaani said.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Venaani stressed that parliamentarians have immunity, which means no action can be taken against a member calling a politician a liar.

Venaani said he ruling party Swapo has on record called other parties names on numerous occasions.

"So when they receive names, they are also not immune. I always say there should be reciprocity of respect; if you want respect, you should also not call other people names," he said.

Venaani, however, stated that as a senior and seasoned politician, and speaking as the official opposition, he would like to remind members of parliament to refrain from insulting each other.

Swanu president Tangeni Iijambo, who tabled the reconciliation motion, said he does not tolerate the language used by Swartbooi, but the reaction may be an accumulation of "a lot of things that were hidden from Namibians".

"As I said, I don't condone bad language, but when people conceal things forever, reality eventually comes out and can be hurtful. Respect gets respect, and this is in the case of Swapo that is also not immune," Iijambo said.

Political analyst Hoze Riruako yesterday said parliament is an honourable house, and officials from various political parties should conduct themselves accordingly.

He said the behaviour of the MPs are being scrutinised by members of the public, and those who elected them are watching them closely.

"The gist of the matter is that whatever is said or done in parliament, should not bring disrepute to that house. In other words, what I am saying is that members should conduct themselves in an orderly manner, that they are seen as a beacon of hope to many others and aspiring and would-be parliamentarians," he said.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Seibeb said the LPM would have a press conference today to address "those issues".

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