Swartbooi, Seibeb feels penalty unclear

Eba Kandovazu

THE Landless People’s Movement (LPM) is claiming that the penalty recommendations by the National Assembly privileges and immunities committee have not properly been communicated, nor are they clear.

LPM’s Spokesperson, Eneas Emvula, says the party’s next course of action will only be determined once the penalty against Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb are clear.

The penalties recommended by the committee are; a reprimand, a fine not exceeding the value of a month’s salary or twice the value of the unethically-derived benefit or a reduction of salary or allowances for a period not exceeding 15 days.

The committee yesterday found the leaders of the LPM guilty of their conduct in parliament during the State of the Nation Address by President Hage Geingob this April. The two MPs were barred from Parliament by Speaker, Peter Katjavivi, after Swartbooi was escorted from the house’s chambers before pushing over the ceremonial mace. Shortly after that, Seibeb was escorted out by Geingob’s bodyguard in a chaotic fit that led to the adjournment of Parliament. This was after he tore the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) document apart, while walking towards the president.

The two LPM leaders unsuccessfully approached the High Court to overrule Katjavivi’s decision to bar them from Parliament. They successfully appealed the High Court’s decision in the Supreme Court.

The Privileges Committee, chaired by Katjavivi considered the aggravating and mitigating factors in coming to the conclusion. Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) President, McHenry Venaani, is the Committee Vice Chairperson. Other members include Agnes Kafula, Phillipus Katamelo and Sebastian Karupu.

According to the report, the aggravating factors included the seriousness of the conduct by Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb as well as their lack of acknowledgement of any wrong doing.

Another aggravating factor, according to the Committee, is the duo’s lack of cooperation with the committee’s work as well as Parliament’s interest to limit the likelihood of similar conduct in future.

The mitigating factor considered by the Committee is the lengthy suspension the two LPM members were on.
“So the Committee does not wish to recommend any further suspension to the house,” the report says.

Yesterday, members of Parliament were discussing the report. According to Parliament Spokesperson, David Nahogandja, the session will continue today in the afternoon, with Swartbooi being the first MP to make submissions.

A decision will be made by the house to decide on the measures to be taken against Swaartbooi and Seibeb.

According to the report, the Committee met 12 times to consider the issues relating to the investigations. Three witnesses appeared before the Committee, namely Hamunyera Hambyuka, Swapo Party Chief Whip; Gideon Shuuya, the Deputy Director of Security Risk Management Services at Parliament and Johan Ndjaronguru, the Presidential Security Chief.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamanya, says although the Supreme Court has previously ruled in favour of the two parliamentarians, the National Assembly can make a ruling independently. According to him, the ruling was unfair because some of the witnesses who testified before the committee formed part of the incident, saying that the President’s body guard Ndjaronguru as a witness was already bound to speak against the behaviour of the two MPs.

“It wasn’t a fair process. I don’t know how fair or impartial the process was going to be, given that some witnesses were actors. There was no effort as to a just and fair hearing. The Committee could have done a good job had they called independent people as witnesses. Transparency is important,” Kamanyah says.

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