The National Assembly yesterday witnessed a brawl between security forces and parliamentarians belonging to the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) never seen before in the August House. Security officials sprang into action after Speaker Peter Katjavivi ordered them to evict a defiant LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi shortly after President Hage Geingob had delivered his State of the Nation address and was taking questions from the opposition.
While being escorted out of the House, Swartbooi also knocked off the ceremonial mace from its stand, leading to heightened tension inside the chamber.
It was at this point when his deputy, Henny Seibeb, ripped up a copy of the Harambee Prosperity Plan in front of the President’s bench.
Seibeb was shoved, carried and manhandled out of the chamber, forcing Katjavivi to suspend the joint sitting.
Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) leader and parliamentarian Mike Kavekotora described the chaos inside the House as totally unacceptable.
“First, the speaker failed to control the House until it reached a climax. He did the right thing to call the sergeant-at-arms to ask the two members to leave the house,” Kavekotora said. However, he added, that for the speaker to call the intelligence to remove the two members was a “stupid move and totally out of order”. “And then he did another stupid move to adjourn the house immediately after the two members were forced out depriving some of us from engaging the President. What was the point of removing them if it was not to bring the House back to order,” he added. He said Katjavivi does not have the right leadership qualities to preside over parliament and it is now up to him to admit and leave. “He has proven at numerous occasions that he simply is not capable,” Kavekotora claimed. National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) chief whip Josef Kauandenge said what happened in parliament is regrettable. However, Kauandenge blamed Katjavivi for calling presidential bodyguards to remove the two MPs. “Whatever the behaviour of the two MPs or the perceived behavior, the speaker has no right to call in unauthorised persons to enter the presence of parliament. It was very clear that the presidential bodyguards were involved in removing the two MPs out of the house,” he said. Leader of the official opposition McHenry Venaani also shared the same sentiments, saying that it was unacceptable for Geingob’s bodyguards to remove a seating MP from the House. “He is not even supposed to join the fray, he is not part of the security complement, the President’s life was not in danger for him to intervene,” Venaani said. Deputy speaker Loide Kasingo said presiding officers have been for a long time lenient even though the two MPs have been contravening the rules of the House on numerous occasions. Political commentator Graham Hopwood said the scenes were very sad to witness of what is supposed to be a noble institution and a pillar of democracy. “Wise, calm and mature heads are needed to call all parties together to ensure that decorum is restored to parliament. Even in the days just after independence when previously warring foes were facing each other across the chamber there was nothing like the scenes we witnessed,” he said.