By: Justicia Shipena
Former Landless People’s Movement (LPM) councillor Elvin Sidney Skakana has accused the LPM leader and his party of using him as a vessel to form the party before “throwing him to the pigs” after its success.
This follows after he was allegedly evicted from a Khabus resettlement farm 30km outside Keetmanshoop, which belongs to Berndaus Swartbooi’s father.
“Look at how Swartbooi reacted when Sara [Kuugongelwa] evicted people from her farm, but today he is doing exactly the same,” the former councillor told The Villager.
According to Skakana, during the party’s early days, Swartbooi had instructed people to invade government farms lying idle.
“I was used as a vessel to campaign for LPM. I was told I would be given legal assistance because he had started practising as a lawyer by that time. I was informed that I would be given legal aid so that he could strengthen his campaign, so I should go and invade a specific government farm,” he narrated.
After invading a government farm located 160KM from Keetmanshoop under the National Youth Service (NYS) supervision on 10 March 2017, Skakana says that Swartbooi opted to represent him as a lawyer on a pro bono basis.
“He only pitched once. Only once in that whole court trial. The day he pitched, he called the state witnesses baboons and publicly humiliated the state witnesses,” he said.
Skakana continued saying that Swartbooi’s way of handling things worsened the case, and at the end of the day, he left him (Skakana) hanging. “The magistrate decided I should present myself since Swartbooi never pitched.”
The court ordered Skakana to be evicted from the settlement farm after the case’s conclusion.
“When I was evicted by court order, he told me that I should bring my stuff to his farm because my property was thrown out and was in the corridor. For me not to suffer further losses, he said I should take my stuff and instead bring them to his father’s resettlement farm, which I did.”
He stated that for nearly six years, he has been supervising Swartbooi’s father’s farm along with his father’s cattle and his cattle.
“I was the one that was sort of a foreman on that farm. But recently, I observed Swartbooi started doing things behind my back,” said Skakana in an interview with The Villager.
He said that tensions between him and Swartbooi grew after he started questioning the LPM leader on things he disagreed with.
In January this year, Skakana was revoked by LPM, and his powers to represent LPM in the Keetmanshoop local authority were stripped away. In June this year, he resigned from the party. He was the management committee member at the Keetmanshoop local authority council.
He said he bore insults from Swartbooi because he had a family to care for.
“But you just had to deal with N$6 000 that you are earning to take care of your wife and children. At some point, I started answering him on that, and then I felt that the tension was growing,” he said.
HIS WORKERS THREATENED ME
He says he was evicted from the farm after being accused of stealing a solar panel.
He added that he then received threats through the workers employed by Swartbooi to not step foot on the premises. At that time, he (Skakana) said he only had horses and donkeys left on the farm.
“When I removed my horses, Swartbooi called me, confronted me, and said who gave me permission to go into the farm and remove donkeys. I dropped the phone in his ear.”
He claims that Swarbooi has a tendency to belittle the next person.
“After you told me that I must remove my donkeys and did what you requested, now I am the worst person on earth. He texted me, telling me how useless I’m and how he usually does, belittling the next person,” he added.
He stressed that he (Swartbooi) evicted him from the resettlement farm.
“I have been evicted by Swartbooi after I have risked everything. Me Elvin Sidney Skakana has risked life and limb for LPM, for the existence of LPM. No one has ever risked what I have risked in this formation of LPM. At the end of the day, I have been taken and thrown to the pigs,” he emphasises.
“What is the use of me still being in a party that states restoring people’s dignity but all along, what is happening is just destroying my dignity? Why should be part of a party that does not respect its own rule of law.”
LPM SAYS IT WAS MERCY
Swartbooi could not be reached for comment. However, LPM spokesperson Eneas Emvula said the issue was a private arrangement and cannot be compared to the prime minister’s matter.
“It is not Skakana’s farm. First of all, the resettlement farm is that of the dad of our leader and not our leader. Skakana knew he was hosted there out of sympathy because where would he go to host his livestock. It was a hand of mercy extended to him,” said Emvula.
According to Emvula, when LPM was formed, Skakana was part of the people who did the groundwork to get the party “as formidable as it is”, adding that it is shameful that a person of his calibre would run to the media making false accusations.
“These are false allegations. Secondly, he feels maybe keen to come up with this form of allegations. He must inform the media why he left that resettlement farm on which he was temporarily hosted.”
He questioned whether Skakana felt bitter because he was released or recalled as a councillor?
“Not to become a crying baby and spit in the faces of people that assisted him during his time of need.”
Previously the party also removed other party members from their positions on local authority councils in the Hardap region.
This included a member of Gochas Village Council, Magrietha Gomases.
Gomases was removed for allegedly defying party instructions and colluding with opposition party members.
The party has also removed Mariental town councillors Daniel Gariseb and Rogetha Haack, whom it accused of being power hungry and other alleged transgressions.
In March this year, Ziggy Sixtus Isaack resigned from the LPM, citing a lack of respect for ‘the humanity and dignity of others and the rule of law’ by the party’s leadership.