The Swapo Party politburo has put to bed all talk that its last meeting was called to discuss measures to be taken against the former deputy land reform minister, Bernadus Swartbooi, for his public criticism of his senior, Minister Utoni Nujoma, over the manner in which the latter handled the land resettlement programme.
The politburo meeting on Monday came hot on the heels of Swartbooi’s public outburst that Nujoma is resettling people from other regions on farms in the South at the expense of the landless Southerners themselves.
However, announcing the decisions of the politburo’s 20th sitting since its formation in 2012, Swapo deputy secretary general Laura McLeod-Katjirua dispelled the allegations when responding to questions from the media on whether the Swartbooi issue was on the agenda.
“Everything I did not announce today means it was not discussed at the politburo,” she said. “It was a scheduled meeting of the politburo and not a special or urgent meeting. It was also not called to discuss certain urgent matters, as alleged in some quarters,” she said.
On Tuesday afternoon, news hit the streets that Swartbooi had resigned from his ministerial post following a meeting with President Hage Geingob, Vice-President Nicky Iyambo, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and the minister in the Office of the Presidency, Frans Kapofi.
The official position is that Swartbooi resigned after refusing to heed Geingob’s call for him to apologise, but there are other reports suggesting he has not resigned and that he in fact reported for duty yesterday, as he is apparently waiting for a letter of dismissal from the president.
While Swartbooi yesterday reportedly said he has not resigned and was waiting for the said letter signalling his dismissal, the Presidency maintained that it was waiting on his resignation letter.
McLeod-Katjirua further announced that the politburo expressed concern over continued references to President Hage Geingob as the acting president of the party and further reiterated a decision by its central committee (CC) to endorse him as full leader of the organisation.
The politburo resolved unequivocally that Geingob assume full presidency of the party after former Swapo Party president Hifikepunye Pohamba handed over power to him in 2014. “All instruments of power and authority were handed over by [Pohamba] to Geingob with the decision of the CC. That decision still stands,” she stated.
“The politburo condemns this behaviour and attitude of referring to the president as ‘acting president’, as it is not only incorrect and unacceptable, but intolerable and must end,” she concluded.
The CC is Swapo’s highest decision-making body between congresses.