Namibia: It Makes Sense to Work With Swapo - Lpm

LANDLESS People's Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi yesterday said it makes sense for his party to work with Swapo, because they have mutual interests involving class and economic issues.

"When you look at those who voted for Swapo, it is the rural folks, it is the ones in the informal settlements, it is the ones who do not have jobs, who are hungry, who are disenfranchised (sic).

"Who voted LPM? It's the ones in the informal settlements, the ones who are hungry, the ones who are disenfranchised (sic). In other words, there is convergence in terms of those who voted for the ruling party and those who voted for the LPM," Swartbooi said, while ruling out a coalition with Swapo.

Swartbooi's conciliatory comments towards the ruling party come after a bruising election contest in which he went as far as saying that Swapo wanted to kill him. The LPM has also been a thorn in Swapo's side since winning four seats in the National Assembly, where they have clashed repeatedly with president Hage Geingob and ruling party MPs.

On the horse-trading talks currently under way around a coalition to govern Windhoek, Swartbooi said his party would only enter into a coalition if it is based on real issues affecting people and not about "who gets what position".

The LPM, who, together with four other political formations, won Windhoek municipal council seats, met yesterday to discuss the details of possible coalitions, which would rule Windhoek for the next five years.

The LPM won two seats on the council.

Other parties in coalition talks are the Independent Patriots for Change with four seats, the Affirmative Repositioning movement with two seats, and the Popular Democratic Movement and the National Unity Democratic Organisation with one seat each.

Swapo only won five seats in Windhoek, but could still win back power through a coalition that incorporates three seats from opposition parties.

Windhoek's new councillors will be sworn in tomorrow.

At a media conference in Windhoek yesterday Swartbooi said his party has already discussed a possible Windhoek coalition with Nudo and AR leader Job Amupanda.

He said the ruling party also attempted to reach out to him about the governance of Windhoek, but did not explain what the attempt entailed.

"There had not been any contact [from Swapo] except for what they have tried, and it is highly confidential. I cannot say it, but no one is prohibited from reaching out to anybody ... in the interest of the people, if you sit down and agree on issues with Swapo, are you in bed with them? Surely not. You are agreeing on important issues for the progress of the people of this country, but we are not going into a coalition with Swapo. Not at all," he said.

He said his party should also be respected in coalition talks, because "we are the party that impacts the balance of powers, and that's the most important".

"Elections come and go but Namibians remain in the circumstances they were found before the elections. The idea is to change the lives of the people after the elections. So, in the administration of the affairs of the state, we do not need to be antagonistic towards each other," he said.

Among many issues discussed at yesterday's coalition talks was the question of who would be Windhoek's new mayor, and who would control the city council's management committee.

Swartbooi criticised this approach saying the discussion should have been about other issues.

"That is not how we approach politics. Any coalition discussions should be based on the principles and values we collectively agree on. Land audits are important for us. Human resource audits are important for us, financial audits. These are important things to wash first - the linen we find are creating a toxic smell within places like Windhoek," Swartbooi said.

He said his party could end up not joining any coalition and only cooperate with other parties "issue by issue", because "coalitions are very difficult to manage".

"We do not go into any coalition like a little child who wants to be given a sweet. We go into any coalition talks, and once an agreement is reached, it means we must govern and we must govern seriously," he said.

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