Landless People’s Movement’s leader, Bernardus Swartbooi has expressed regret and proffered an apology for telling labour minister Utoni Nujoma that he was “demoted like a dog”.
Both politicians, who at one time steered the land reform ministry as minister and deputy minister before they fell out of each other’s favour, squared off in parliament this week leading to a heated exchange of words.
Swartbooi had been given lee-way by the chairperson of the whole house committee and Nujoma stood up to interject him, leading to a verbal exchange where Swartbooi told Nujoma off.
But Swartbooi has come out to say he has no time for personal vendettas and regards his former senior as “my good friend”.
In an exclusive interview on the Early Morning Scoop, the LPM politician who managed to grab four seats in his debut run for the parliament said days of passive opposition politics in the August House were over.
Summing up his heated exchange with President Hage Geingob during the latter’s State of the Nation Address together with his confrontation with Nujoma, Swartbooi said this was “the new normal in parliament”.
He accused the ruling Swapo party of having used insults to cow the opposition into passivity adding that he was making use of the same to stand his ground in parliament.
“ I think we must admit a number of things first. After independence, there was a particular political style and character that the people of this country got used to. That was defined by a dominant ruling party and a very small and progressively dwindling opposition
It, therefore, meant that in respect of some of the opposition parties, the dominant discourse in terms of conducting yourself in parliament, conducting yourself in the political sphere and the republic became the script exclusively written by Swapo and in the interest of Swapo.
And because it was dominantly in favour of Swapo, written by Swapo, the script would force opposition parties to be compliant political parties. Their leaders would be harassed. They would be humiliated.
They would be humiliated at the State of the Nation Addresses, they would be laughed at, the questions that they posed to the President, whether it is Nujoma or Pohamba would be made fun of and it would become a laughing matter and at public meetings of Swapo, leaders would be called names and they wouldn’t respond,” he said.
But he was quick to say that his mission is to vigorously engage political opponents on issues that matter, adding that he was not a bitter man.
He described his temperament as that punctuated by genuine anger which stems from decades of economic mismanagement.