Namibia: Seibeb, Swartbooi Parliament Hearing Scheduled for 18 May

THE parliamentary committee on privileges and immunities is set to have a hearing on the removal of two parliamentarians almost weeks after Landless People's Movement (LPM) leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb took legal action against National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi over their suspension from the National Assembly (NA).

Last week the two LPM leaders took Katjavivi to court arguing he does not have the authority to bar members of parliament from the NA for more than one day.

Swartbooi was escorted from parliament and Seibeb was thrown out by president Hage Geingob's bodyguard, which has seen a tense atmosphere descend on lawmakers, leading to an abrupt adjournment.

In an affidavit filed at the Windhoek High Court, Swartbooi and Seibeb are asking the court to declare Katjavivi's decision to withdraw them from the NA's chamber as unlawful and to set it aside.

The judgement is scheduled to be delivered today.

The parliamentary committee will finally hear testimony from lawmakers who were present at the session from which the LPM leaders were removed during Geingob's state of the nation address.

Swartbooi and Seibeb's matter has been shifting between two committees since the incident.

Both require the other to decide on whether Katjavivi's ruling should be upheld.

The parliamentary committee on standing rules and orders and internal arrangements two weeks ago decided that the two LPM parliamentarians should remain withdrawn from the chamber for the time being.

They then referred the matter back to the privileges and immunities committee.

"The hearing will involve hearing evidence from various persons present in the National Assembly chamber on 15 April 2021," NA spokesperson David Nahogandja yesterday said in a press statement.

They have also decided the hearing would not be open to the public.

"However, the National Assembly will update the public regarding progress on this important process," Nahogandja said.

URGENT APPLICATION

Katjavivi claims the action he took was "wholly lawful", and that the parliament "cannot afford the ugly and violent scenes of 15 April 2021 any more".

He says members of parliament have complained to him that they "fear for their safety" because of the LPM leaders' behaviour.

Swartbooi in his affidavit said the standing rules of the NA give the speaker the authority to withdraw a member whose behaviour is "grossly improper" from the assembly chamber only for the remaining period of a sitting day in question, and that only the assembly's committee on standing rules and orders can recommend the suspension of members of parliament for longer periods.

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