Swartbooi's resignation means more freedom of speech

14 Dec 2016 14:40pm
WINDHOEK, 14 DEC (NAMPA) – Deputy Minister of Land Reform Bernadus Swartbooi’s resignation will mean more freedom of expression for him as Member of Parliament in the National Assembly, local political analyst Phanuel Kaapama has said.
Swartbooi offered to resign on Tuesday after he refused to apologise to Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma publicly.
He is said to have made remarks about Nujoma resettling people from the northern regions on land belonging to the Nama people in the south that was previously seized by the German colonial regime.
On Tuesday, Geingob along with Vice-President Nickey Iyambo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Minister of Presidential Affairs Frans Kapofi met with Swartbooi.
During the meeting, the President reiterated that Swartbooi should apologise but he refused to, instead offering to resign from his position as deputy minister.
The President is awaiting the letter of resignation, Kapofi said.
Kaapama said Swartbooi was not politically naïve and knew what he was doing when he made the remarks towards Nujoma at a festival at Hoachanas nearly two weeks ago.
He said he knew the implications thereof to the country, the Swapo Party and Cabinet.
The implications of Swartbooi’s resignation are however minimal at this stage, according to Kaapama, who said the implications would be more personal.
“Politics is not a question of what you say, but the content of what you say,” Kaapama said.
Whether the resignation was the right thing to do or whether an apology to the senior Cabinet member would have been the better option, Kaapama said nothing could have been done differently.
This is not the first time a senior minister or official has been asked to publicly apologise or to be fired for comments or views expressed.
This year, the Omaheke Regional Governor Festus Ueitele apologised to the Ovaherero community, following an instruction by President Hage Geingob after alleged inflammatory tribalist remarks he made.
In 2004, former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) leader Paulus Kapia was ordered to publicly apologise to the Northern Regions Electricity Distribution Company (Nored) for alleged slanderous attacks.
Furthermore, former Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo quit the ruling party in 2013 after he was fired as minister by President Hifikepunye Pohamba following a fall-out with some party members.