Andrew Kathindi

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) Leader, Bernardus Swartbooi, and the party’s Parliamentary Chief Whip, Henny Seibeb, have been barred from attending Parliament by Speaker of the House, Peter Katjavivi after they were forcibly removed from the Chambers last week.

Swartbooi and Seibeb were not in Parliament for Monday’s session. “In the meantime, the Speaker ruling of Thursday, 15 April, 2021, that the two Members of Parliament (MPs) are withdrawn from the Chamber remains in force until it is set aside on the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Standing Rules and Orders and Internal Arrangements. Further penalties will be communicated if it produces any,” Parliament’s Spokesperson, David Nahogandja, told Windhoek Observer.

According to Nahogandja, the matter has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Standing Rules and Orders and Internal Arrangements (STROC) , which after deliberation may refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges, which is due to meet on Tuesday.

Political commentator, Henning Melber, said it was odd that elected MPs could be barred from Parliament.

“They represent an electorate. They can of course be reprimanded for unruly behaviour if the Standing Committee agrees so. But they should not be refused participation in parliamentary deliberations, while being in office. I have no detailed knowledge of the rules, but I would assume that the Speaker has gone beyond the powers vested in the authority of his office.”

According to Melber, Katjavivi is pre-empting a ruling of the Standing Committee, which he argues even it, does not have the powers to ban an elected MP from the National Assembly.

“While throwing a tantrum is not necessarily the conduct one would expect from elected representatives of the people, it is certainly not a misbehaviour which merits such consequences. It seems a total unjustified over-reaction to me and – dare I say – beyond imagination as a form of disciplinary intervention when it comes to MPs of at least one other party. I am afraid the Speaker abuses the powers vested in his office.”

According to Secretary of the National Assembly, Lydia Kandetu, Swartbooi and Seibeb continued with commentaries, disruptions and interjections during the President Hage Geingob’s answers, which forced the Speaker to ask the Sargent of Arms to escort them out of the Chambers.

Seibeb was,however, removed by the President’s Head of Security, Johan Ndjaronguru. This comes as Ndjaronguru has opened a case of treason and assault against Seibeb, while the LPM second in charge opened a case against the President’s Head of Security, claiming that he had tried to punch him, while removing him from Parliament.