Desmond Tutu once said, “don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” It’s a lesson the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) and its leadership would do well to heed.
The party’s top two leaders find themselves in parliamentary limbo after the Windhoek High Court refused to interfere in legislative matters when Henny Seibeb and Bernadus Swartbooi sued speaker Peter Katjavivi for indefinitely suspending them from attending the National Assembly after their performance during April’s State of the Nation address.
Two of its //Kharas regional councillors also find themselves between a rock and a hard place after initially becoming National Council members, and thereafter accepting positions on the //Kharas Regional Council management committee.
This week, a viral video of LPM’s Maltahöhe councillor Hanna Swartbooi exposed a horror movie that is Namibia today as well as the party’s coarse modus operandi.
The chickens are coming home to roost for the LPM.
The Maltahöhe incident was a microcosm of the horror movie that Namibia is descending into: A bit of boardroom nudge-nudge wink-wink mixed with a little corporate greed tainted with a smidgeon of racism/tribalism tied with a bow of outrageous political theatre.
A grossly neglected and backward area now under the control of the opposition allocated a contract to a company with the agreement that he employs locals.
An agreement he reneged upon allegedly, with this kicker… the locals are too weak for the physical work.
When councillor Swartbooi hurled the rocks back into the ditch, it was as if Seibeb and Swartbooi’s juvenile antics in parliament came back to haunt them in the rural south.
The party was swift to issue a statement, saying it set in motion “internal processes of self correction”.
Whatever that means.
The party also said in a statement, “indeed, it is true that an agreement to employ 95% local unskilled labour was reached with the contractor, but was deliberately breached.”
It is worth noticing that Swartbooi and Seibeb’s various capers never earned any rebuke from the party. Instead, party members demonstrated at parliament when the duo were kicked out. The party says it exists to disrupt the status quo. All Namibians understand that. It is long overdue.
No one can be satisfied with the lethargy and lazy, out-dated rhetoric and lack of meaningful debate that became the order of the day in both houses of parliament.
Many Namibians are dismayed at the level of debate in parliament, the failure of MPs to do their homework, the watching of movies, and even scrolling through dating sites by MPs over the years.
Seibeb and Swartbooi, we should hasten to add, aren’t parliament’s only enfants terribles.
Often the subject of their ire, Utoni Nujoma, as well as a few others, have become known for their interjections sans substance.
When the LPM duo contribute rationally, their points often stick.
Swartbooi’s continued evisceration of then defence minister Peter Vilho won him many admirers.
His contribution during SONA, before it all unravelled, is what many would remember him by.
Swartbooi is an intelligent, well-read, astute politician and an orator of note.
The former //Kharas governor’s eloquence is often marvelled at, and the LPM has certainly upped the game regarding research into issues discussed in the House.
LPM’s in-your-face stance is a slippery slope. Hanna Swartbooi’s antics this week could easily have gone south, fast.
Seibeb’s ejection by the president’s bodyguard is an ugly incident that crossed so many lines that will keep the courts busy for some time.
Brute boorishness should not become a substitute for a failure to navigate and manoeuvre the obstacles on the political stage.
The LPM’s publicly stated hallucinations of North Korean drugs that would have been used on polling agents to make them forget, and the alleged attempts to get Bernadus Swartbooi incarcerated so several men can have anal sex with him in the cells smell of desperation, if not absurdist satire.
You don’t influence people and win friends by throwing the baby out with the bath water.
The LPM would do well if it reduced the noise on its outrage machine, and focus on what it does well.