WINDHOEK – The DTA has distanced itself from comments made by its vice-president Kazeongere Tjeundo regarding a proposal mooting the introduction of a “wife-swapping” law.
The Namibian Sun reported last week that Tjeundo said he would propose a “wife-swapping” law in Namibia after the elections in November.
This he said while defending the practice of ‘okujepisa omukazendu’ or ‘offering a wife to a guest’ among the Ovahimba and Ovazemba tribes.
“The DTA has nothing to do with his statement because it is his personal statement, but we respect his culture. However, for other cultures that do not relate to his this practice this is wrong and therefore the DTA should not be crucified for those remarks,” said the secretary general of the DTA, Vincent Kanyetu, yesterday.
Kanyetu said “steps” would be taken against Tjeundo regarding the controversial “wife-swapping” comments through the media.
“At this point I cannot publicly say what steps will be taken but I can assure you that the party will take action,” said the DTA secretary general.
Kanyetu said the party’s leadership has been inundated with calls the past few days from irate party members who are opposed to Tjeundo’s comments.
“I urge our party members to remain calm while we handle the situation so that we can get to the bottom of it,” said Kanyetu.
Tjeundo has been instructed by the party to publicly clarify his statement and to apologise, said Kanyetu.
With the national elections just a few months away, Kanyetu said Tjeundo’s comments could have a negative impact on the party.
“Since the party was formed there has never been such discussions or policies,” he said.
Several community activists have chastised the party for comments made by its vice-president because they feel wife swapping puts women at risk of contracting HIV and that it also depicts women as ‘objects’ traded at will.
Tjeundo refused to give any clarity on his comments apart from saying that he was “misinterpreted”.
“There is a lot of misinterpretation and I have to fix that before you guys (media) can come in,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Women’s Action for Development (WAD) says the DTA has deteriorated as a political factor over the past years, also following remarks by the party’s vice-president regarding a proposal to introduce a “wife-swapping law.”
WAD’s executive director Veronica De Klerk said in a statement that she strongly deplored, rejected and condemned the idea.
“It is a great pity that under the current young and vibrant leadership for whom many wished the party great success to introduce some vivacity among the ranks of the opposition for the sake of maintaining a healthy democracy should now display their stone-age side with its intention to introduce a law which is in conflict with our gender-related laws in the country and its intention to introduce a law which is as primitive as wife swapping,” stated De Klerk in the statement.
“WAD therefore calls upon the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council to urgently facilitate training workshops for lawmakers to familiarize themselves with the contents of the constitution and gender-related laws, before such ridiculous intentions by lawmakers are made in our two respected houses of Parliament,” she said.
“Such short-sightedness and lack of knowledge of the contents of their own constitution by the DTA vice-president, Hon Kazeongere Tjeundo, are rejected with the contempt it deserves,” she said.
She says if permitted the law can lead to gender-based violence.
“It touches on women’s dignity, and if a wife is forced against her will to engage in wife swapping, she is forced into marital rape which is illegal in terms of our gender-related laws,” said De Klerk.
She said wife swapping has serious consequences such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases among men and women.
By Mathias Haufiku