We are not Catholic nuns – LPM
10 July 2020 | Politics
Anyone who expects the Landless People's Movement (LPM) to “act like Catholic nuns” in the National Assembly is grossly mistaken, the party's firebrand leader Bernadus Swartbooi said this week.
The former lands deputy minister, who now leads the new opposition party and has had a series of dramatic moments in parliament, often punctuated by swearing and threats of physical harm, also added that founding president Sam Nujoma had his flaws, for which an unpleasant choice of words could be used.
He drew the ire of the public, including retired army generals and war veterans, when he referred to 91-year-old Nujoma as a “thug and a liar” last week in parliament.
Speaking to Namibian Sun's daily interview show The Evening Review on Wednesday, Swartbooi said the ruling party Swapo, which he quit in 2017, is not used to being challenged in parliament during debates.
“The problem that we've had for the past 30 years is that parliamentary democracy and recognition of that arm of state as an important central pillar of our statehood has been reduced.”
“Essentially, the country only has the judiciary and the executive. This is because the executive dominates parliament. Even Swapo members who are substantive members of parliament have not been able to exercise their oversight functions. In this sense, parliament has been weakened and it has become a disinteresting, weak body.”
“When we [LPM] sat down to strategise what our approach in parliament would be, we said the relevance of this important institution of the state must emerge. This means that place must have strong debates, strong intellectual input, provide solutions to those in government to implement better policies.”
“We knew we were joining a corrupt parliament. Secondly, you have a ruling party with 63 members in that house. If you go there behaving as a Catholic nun or a gentleman politician, you'll have no one listening to you.”
“You can't talk to those in power in a very subtle way, in idiomatic expressions and in ways that flatter them. You can't achieve your goals that way,” he added.
Nujoma no angel
Swartbooi said Nujoma is an angel in the eyes of some and a demon to others.
“His legacy is a double sword, just like those of other African leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere or Robert Mugabe. They have both good and bad legacies.”
“No one can dictate to us the choice of words we must use to describe the darker side of Sam Nujoma, including the issue of the Lubango dungeons.”
“We have nothing against the person of Sam Nujoma or his legacy in general, but he is no angel.”