Andrew Kathindi

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Standing Rules and Orders and Internal Arrangements (STROC) has upheld Speaker, Peter Katjavivi’s ruling to bar Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader, Bernardus Swartbooi, and the party’s Chief Whip, Henny Seibeb, from the Parliament’s Chambers.

“The Standing Rules and Order Committee met and the decision is that they decided to sustain the ruling of the Speaker and the members remain withdrawn from the chambers,” Parliament Spokesperson, David Nahogandja, told the Windhoek Observer.

The decision was taken at a STROC meeting held on Wednesday afternoon.

STROC committees are made up of chief whips of the eleven political parties represented in the National Assembly, the chairpersons of the eight standing committees and is chaired by the Speaker.

According to Nahogandja, the matter has now been referred to the Committee of Privileges, which is also chaired by Katjavivi, which will be sitting on Monday to discuss the way forward.

This comes as LPM has filed an urgent application with the High Court to challenge the Speaker’s decision to have the leaders of the LPM withdrawn from the National Assembly.

LPM’s supporters also held a demonstration against the Speaker’s decision.

According to opposition party, Katjavivi refused to accept the Landless People’s Movement’s petition and assigned the Secretary of the National Assembly, Lydia Kandetu, to receive the petition on Wednesday.

Already lawyers representing Swartbooi and Seibeb had written to the Speaker, demanding that their clients be allowed back into the chambers.

“We have advised our clients to disregard paragraph 2 of your letters as if it is not written because it is patently beyond your legal power or authority and therefore illegal. Consequently, our client will attend sessions in the National Assembly, from Wednesday 21 April 2021 at 14:30”

Swartbooi and Seibeb were however unable to enter the Parliament chambers.

Nahogandja confirmed that Parliament has received the letter, but however maintained that the decision of the Rules and Order Committee stands.

“The members have their rights to approach the courts,” he said.

STROC’s decision to sustain the Speaker’s ruling comes as Seibeb had previously taken issue with the formation of the standing committees.