Swartbooi unrepentant about conduct in National Assembly

MATHIAS HAUFIKU

26 July 2021 | Politics

WINDHOEK

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi remains unrepentant about his party’s conduct in parliament, saying it is a vibrant institution where “some tolerance for some improper conduct” must exist.

LPM is often the target of stark criticism over its alleged improper conduct, however the party maintains its conducts is within the law.

Swartbooi claims the parliamentary recording system is rigged in such a way that it is geared towards recording LPM MPs, but does not record the conduct of Swapo party members.

He said this in his court papers that are currently subject to the Supreme Court appeal in which the National Assembly is fighting to fend off a Supreme Court appeal into its decision to withdraw the LPM lawmakers indefinitely.

“The Speaker can act only on account of grossly improper conduct of a member. This necessarily entails that there should be some tolerance for some improper conduct, which could include things like a staged walkout from parliament,” he said.

Swartbooi accused the Speaker, Peter Katjavivi, of conducting parliamentary proceedings in a biased manner “to favour his Swapo party members”.

He said they had in the past complained about how the cameras in parliament are turned and focused on LPM members, even when chaos and disruptions emanate from Swapo members.

Swartbooi claims Katjavivi never reprimands Swapo members.

With Katjavivi having indicated in his court papers that he was approached by various MPs who claim they fear for their safety if Swartbooi and Seibeb are allowed to come to Parliament before the disciplinary proceedings, the LPM leader said he poses no threat or danger to his fellow lawmakers.

‘Ugly scenes’

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.

According to Swartbooi, any investigation concerning their alleged conduct has to be done by organs of the National Assembly.

“No court has jurisdiction to pronounce itself on the merits and demerits of such an investigation at least until such an organ has completed its work and there is perhaps a challenge to its outcomes by an aggrieved person.

In other words, at this stage of the proceedings, it would be highly inappropriate for this court to comment on our alleged conduct, as such conduct is subject to parliamentary proceedings. Only parliament has jurisdiction to do so,” he said.

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