MPs ‘scared’ of LPM leaders

Speaker Katjavivi has stated in court papers that he never witnessed ‘ugly scenes’ in the National Assembly before - until the arrival of Swartbooi and Seibeb.

22 July 2021 | Government

MATHIAS HAUFIKU







WINDHOEK

Lawmakers fear that their safety will be in jeopardy if Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb are allowed back into the National Assembly without any punitive measures, the Supreme Court heard yesterday.

This is contained in court documents filed by National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi’s legal team, in which he highlights the fears of parliamentarians.

“I have been approached by various members of parliament [MPs] who seriously fear for their safety if the applicants are allowed to come to Parliament before the disciplinary proceedings are finalised and regard the conduct of the applicants as unbearable,” he said in his affidavit dated 22 April.

Katjavivi said the LPM duo will carry out their threats if allowed back, hence his “temporary action pending the relevant committee dealing with the matter”.

The Speaker, who claims the conduct of the two MPs amounted to a criminal act, said he never witnessed ‘ugly scenes’ in the National Assembly until the arrival of Swartbooi and Seibeb.

He added that his decision to withdraw the two is not untrammelled because it is supported by parliamentary rules.

“My actions were not punitive. My actions are preventative based on the utterances by the applicants at a press conferences shortly after the incident that they will continue conducting themselves in a defiant manner and they did not express regret,” he said.

Volatile situation

Meanwhile, Gideon Shuuya - the head of security at Parliament - described the security situation at Parliament as “volatile”.

Shuuya said the situation in chambers will continue to be disruptive if Swartbooi and Seibeb return without being disciplined.

He further claimed that Seibeb “threatened someone with violence by threatening that he knows the personal address of that person. This was ostensibly a direct threat to such person’s safety”.

The secretariat has been assessing the security situation even before the chaos that broke out when President Hage Geingob delivered his state of the nation address (SONA) in April.

Remain vigilant

In her security report dated 12 March submitted to Katjavivi, National Assembly secretary Lydia Kandetu had already recommended that the parliamentary protection service should remain vigilant to ensure that lawmakers do not engage in physical fights.

Her report was triggered by Seibeb and Swartbooi trading insults with Swapo lawmaker Hilma Nikanor. At the time, Kandetu also claimed that the duo almost got into a fight with another Swapo MP, Pohamba Shifeta.

Regarding to the SONA debacle, Kandetu said the two ignored warnings from Katjavivi, hence the decision to kick them out.

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