The fight between Namibia’s land reform minister Utoni Nujoma and his former deputy Bernadus Swartbooi spilled into the National Assembly on Wednesday where insults were hailed during a session.
Swartbooi was sacked by President Hage Geingob last year after he had accused Nujoma of resettling people from other regions in the south of the country ahead of the Nama tribe who lost the land to the Germans. Geingob ordered Swartbooi to apologize to Nujoma but he refused to do resulting in his dismissal.
Although he lost his ministerial post, Swartbooi remains a Swapo parliamentarian. The latest fight between the two came after Nujoma, who is former President Sam Nujoma’s son, sought to clear what he termed some misconception regarding the land reform in Namibia. In a prepared statement, Nujoma said that people who were claiming to advocate for the landless had themselves received land. He also said that contrary to what people were saying about the Land Bill that he tabled and later withdrew in the National Assembly, his ministry had consulted widely.
It was during the presentation that Swartbooi shouted at Nujoma, calling him an idiot. “He is insulting people. He is an idiot,” Swartbooi said. Nujoma did not falter in his presentation but was forced to stop when the leader of the main opposition McHenry Venaani stood up on a point of order. Venaani also objected to Nujoma’s statements that there were consultations before the Land Bill was tabled because there was no consultation done with the opposition parties.
At that point, the Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi asked Swartbooi whether he had called Nujoma an idiot. Swartbooi said he had said that and Katjavivi then ordered him to withdraw the statement. “If that is correct, please withdraw your statement honorable member as this is not in keeping with parliamentary language.
That term is not acceptable,” Katjavivi said. Swartbooi said he meant what he had said and that he would withdraw the statement because of the respect he has for other parliamentarians. “I withdraw it on the basis of your request. I shall not repeat it again for the quorum of the house and for the respect of the honorable members,” he said.