Namibia: Court Washes Hands Off SONA Scuffle

Landless People's Movement (LPM) leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb have lost their legal fight in which they were suing National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi for banning them from Parliament indefinitely.

High Court Judge Kobus Miller dismissed the parliamentarians' application, which sought an order for review and setting aside of Katjavivi's decision communicated to them on 19 April.

Handing down judgement, Miller noted it would be judicial overreach if the court were to grant the relief sought by the two parliamentarians. "It is not for this court to usurp in part at least what is pending before the parliamentary committee seized with the matter and to pronounce itself on the matter at this stage," said Miller. The court noted there are other remedies available to Swartbooi and Seibeb, where their grievances can be dealt with.

"The committee is competent to consider whether the matter is properly before it; whether the correct procedures were followed in bringing the matter before it, apart from other facts and circumstances," explained Miller before dismissing the application.

The two firebrand politicians were banned from parliament after they were entangled in a brawl with security forces after they were ordered to leave the chamber by Katjavivi during the question-and-answer session of President Hage Geingob's State of the Nation address on 15 April. While Swartbooi was escorted out of the chamber, Seibeb was shoved and manhandled out of the House by security personnel, forcing Katjavivi to abruptly suspend the joint sitting.

Katjavivi had referred the matter to the privileges committee, which is now expected to hold an inquiry into the conduct of the two MPs. Speaking during a press briefing after the court's ruling yesterday, Swartbooi said the judge avoided dealing with the real merits of the case and made a determination on their conduct in parliament, which he said was wrong.

He said the court failed to establish that the decision they are challenging was made before the matter reached the Privilege Committee.

"Over the past years, there has been a steady deterioration of constitutional democracy and supremacy of the constitution towards executive supremacy, and this is where this judgement finds itself applicable," said Swartbooi. Despite them not being in agreement with the judgement, Swartbooi said they would abide by it.

The two parliamentarians were represented by lawyer Gerson Narib, while Sisa Namandje was representing Katjavivi. - mamakali@nepc.com.na

2021-05-07 Maria Amakali

Tags: SONA

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