…As Geingob cuts lonely figure
Apart from some politicians and technocrats in Government, it seems President Hage Geingob has little support over the manner in which he handled the saga involving deputy lands minister Bernadus Swartbooi.
A public demonstration under the banner “#IamClintonSwartbooi” is scheduled to take place today in support Swartbooi.
The demonstrators will gather at the Ovaherero Commando Hall in Katutura and then march their way to the offices of the Ministry of Land Reform and thereafter to State House to hand over a petition to the President.
During a meeting that was held at the Ovaherero Commando Hall in Katutura on Wednesday night, a group of over 200 community members mostly of the Nama, Damara and Ovaherero speaking calling themselves ‘Landless United’, resolved to march to State House to express their dismay and frustration on how Swartbooi is being treated.
According to the group, it was disappointing for them to learn that Swartbooi was given a deadline of 24hours to apologize for word that he used and him subsequently being “forced to resign” by President Hage Geingob without having set with both Ministers (Utoni Nujoma and Swartbooi) to iron out their differences.
Landless United mapped a way forward on how to effectively and efficiently put weight behind Swatbooi, whom they called a “true son of the soil” who speaks for the landless masses. The high profile figures in attendance included among others Damara King Justus Garoeb, Chief Eduard Afrikaner, Swapo Parliamentarian Ida Hoffmann,Chief Dawid Gertze and Otjinene Constituency Councilor Erwin Katjizeu.
Speaking during to crowd chanting “I am Clinton Swartbooi”, convener for King Garoeb , Magdellena Amgabes told those in attendance that the gathering had nothing to do with tribes saying that an “injury to one is an injury to all”.
“This is not about Damaras, Namas or Hereros, tonight we stand together in solidarity as one,” said Amgabes.
In the group’s support for Swartbooi, the group delegated a number of individuals to visit the Deputy Minister at his residence on Wednesday morning and another to escort him to office in the quest to protect him against potential harm.
Moreover, the group say that their support for Swartbooi was nothing new in Namibia because the same was done for the then Prime Minister Hage Geingob during aftermath of his “dismissal” from the position he held by former President Sam Nujoma early 2000’s.
“A delegation was sent to visit Clinton, to protect and comfort him and will continue doing so,”
“We hope President Geingob can relate to how poor Swartbooi is feeling because he once too experienced the same fate,” added Amgabes.
Sharing the same sentiments as Amgabes, Chief Eduard Afrikaner urged Namibians to hold hand together in their “legitimate” quest of getting back (land) what rightfully belongs to them.
On the contrary, the Swartbooi’s resignation or dismissal is viewed as the beginning of bigger and greater things to come. Speaking at the same juncture, Otjinene Constituency Councilor Erwin Katjizou told those in attendance that a “revolution” was on the horizon.
“We sit idling while land that was taken away from us by the Germans is now being redistributed to people who have never lost land,”
“Today I speak the language of Clinton Swartbooi, until such a time that land is distributed fairly, until we get back our land, revolution is now,” warned Katjizeu.
Echoing the words of Katjizeu, Damara King Justus Garoeb said that their ancestors lost their lives fighting for land and if need be, they too will “lose” their lives if it means getting back what is theirs.
“We are gathered here from different tribes and different political parties, but our purpose is one which is Namibia,”
“We are pained that our forefathers lost land, we lost land have nowhere to call home in our country of birth,”
“Our ancestors lost their lives because of land, and should the time arrive for us to die for our land, so it shall be,” concluded Garoeb.
Swartbooi came under fire for making remarks about land reform minister Utoni Nujoma at a cultural festival at Hoachanas recently. According to reports, Swartbooi charged that Nujoma should be called to order for the manner in which he was handling the resettlement issue by resetting people from other regions in the south ahead of those hailing from the region. Geingob then gave Swartbooi 24hours to apologize, something Swartbooi has since refused to do.
The drama that has enveloped the country over the past week around the Swartbooi saga shows no sign of letting up.
And just as expected, in a surprising turn of events, President Hage Geingob replaced Swartbooi with Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare deputy minister Priscilla Boois. “Today, 15 December 2016 President Dr. Hage G. Geingob formally accepted Honourable Bernardus Swartbooi, former Deputy Minister of Land Reform’s verbal resignation and in conformity with the powers conferred upon him by Article 32 (6) of the Namibian Constitution,” said press secretary Albertus Aochamub in the statement yesterday. Boois was one of the two deputy ministers at the poverty eradication ministry.
“The appointment is with immediate effect. The President wishes Honourable Swartbooi well in his future endeavours and welcomes the new Deputy Minister to her new assignment,” Aochamub said.