Why I called Nujoma an idiot
Axed Land Reform Deputy Minister, Bernadus Swartbooi, says he repeatedly called his former boss, Utoni Nujoma, “an idiot” in the National Assembly this week, because “it is the only language he (Nujoma) understands”.
The SWAPO parliamentarian also accused Nujoma, whose ministerial statement he repeatedly interrupted on Wednesday, of having “a culture of insulting people, without being called to order”.
Swartbooi was fired from his Government post in December last year, after he first refused to apologise and then resign, for publicly telling attendees at a traditional festival at Hoachanas that Nujoma should be called to order for resettling people from as far as the Zambezi region, on land in the South.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer after the National Assembly fiasco this week, Swartbooi said Nujoma had used his ministerial statement to launch attacks at him, including that he and other land activists were not genuine.
Nujoma also appeared to suggest that Swartbooi and others have instigated an uprising among landless Namibians, while they themselves have benefited from Government’s land resettlement programme.
“I said, ‘you are an idiot’. I repeated this on record that the man is an idiot, because it is the truth,” Swartbooi told the Windhoek Observer.
“You cannot piss on someone and expect them to just sit there and be quiet. His statement was provocative and he was pissing on me. As a Member of Parliament who took an oath to defend the truth, I decided to tell him the truth.
“I did not apologise; I repeated it a number of times, and I told the National Assembly Speaker (Professor Peter Katjavivi) that I believe that is the case. We must respect each other and you cannot go on misleading the people,” Swartbooi said.
Although, he later withdrew the statement in the National Assembly, Swartbooi remains unapologetic for his choice of words.
He also believes that there have been attempts by those in Government, particularly President Hage Geingob, State House Press Secretary Albertus Aochamub, Attorney General Sackeus Shanghala and Nujoma, to “tactically manoeuvre to tighten the noose around my neck”.
Swartbooi said that contrary to popular belief, he did not instigate, organise and mobilise landless Namibians, under the banner of the Landless People’s Movement.
“That movement was self-mobilised. I spoke about land and I was fired. I went on holiday and did not mobilise anyone. I was at the farm during that time.
“I was, however, invited to speak at Keetmanshoop, Maltahöhe and Aminius. I honoured those invitations. I did not organise those meetings,” Swartbooi said.
“But this man Hage Geingob-Nujoma started to call me names and say nonsense at the opening of the Judicial Year, including things, ‘like failed politician’, ‘making the country ungovernable’ and ‘instigating people’, but I kept quiet.”
He said Aochamub had also taken a couple of swipes at him, by publicly calling him a failed politician, an insult he chose to ignore.
“The same Hage Geingob-Nujoma used the opening of Cabinet and Parliament to repeat the same things again.”
Swartbooi indicated that he couldn’t keep his peace and silence any longer, as the people were being confused by those calling him names and labelling him, while also suggesting that he is not genuine.
‘My wife was resettled’
Swartbooi also clarified that he does not own a farm in the country, contrary to what was being said.
“I do not own any land in this country, apart from a house in Keetmanshoop. The farm they are saying I was resettled on is not mine, and they know it. My wife was resettled on that farm in the Kunene region, before we were even married.
“I farm with my cattle on that piece of land as well, because she is now my wife, but it is not in my name. While she was resettled there, I had in the past applied for a farm, and I got one through waiver, but couldn’t buy it because of the money.”
He stressed that the farm on which his wife is resettled is small, and he will continue searching for his own farm, when his finances permit.
Another misconception Swartbooi cleared up was that he resettled his parents on a farm in the South. He said they had been allocated the farm, while he was still a student at the Windhoek College of Education.
According to Swartbooi, whether his parents are resettled or not is currently not the main issue, but addressing the issue of land, and particularly compensation for ancestral land lost during the colonial period, should be the focus.
“This is typical of failed politicians, where they fight the man and not the issue. We need to address the land issue, and not label and call those who are driving a genuine cause, names.”
Swartbooi also dismissed talk that the San people were not part of the Landless People’s Movement meetings.
“They [the San] came to all the meetings I was invited to. They spoke at these meetings, so I do not know what they are talking about.”
Meanwhile, SWAPO Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, Aochamub and Nujoma have refused to comment, while Katjavivi could not be reached at the time of going to print.