Windhoek-Vice-President Nickey Iyambo this week said the ruling party Swapo is consistent in recalling senior officials and that former lands deputy minister Bernadus Swartbooi was not the first to be recalled.
The vice-president cited former youth and sports minister Kazenambo Kazenambo as an example of officials previously
recalled. Former president Hifikepunye Pohamba elected not to retain Kazenambo as his minister, after a series of controversial public statements and emotional outbursts.
Kazenambo remains a member of the Swapo politburo and central committee.
Iyambo’s comments come after journalists at State House on Monday questioned the fairness of the party leadership in recalling some top officials, while others are left untouched. They cited Kazenambo as among the “untouchables”.
“I think we can recall that Kazenambo was also recalled from his post as a minister because of those utterances. As a minister, he was removed and therefore he was not re-appointed,” the VP said in response.
At the same press briefing President Geingob said he had tried to amicably resolve the issue when he asked Swartbooi to apologise, but the latter failed to do so.
Geingob said Swartbooi refused to apologise after he public proclaimed that he was not working under Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma. He remarked that Swartbooi had said a lot of things and was asked to apologise for the platform he had used – not for raising his concerns over land reform.
The president said the platform Swartbooi used at the time as a minister and as a member of Swapo was inappropriate, as he was supposed to raise the issue within those structures.
Instead of apologising, Geingob said he just attacked the minister. “Two weeks passed. He was on the radio saying, ‘I will never apologise’. No journalist asked questions. Then in fairness, I thought: ‘I must call him, maybe he thinks we are dealing with the merit of the issue.’”
Nonetheless, he said he still wrote him a letter to invite Swartbooi to State House.
“When I entered I had with me the vice president, prime minister and [Frans] Kapofi (Secretary to Cabinet). When I walked in the man was burning… so I jokingly said, ‘Why are you angry? Hello, good morning,’” the head of state recalled.
Geingob said he then told Swartbooi that he was not invited to State House to apologise for his views about the land issue, as the land question is everyone’s concern. He said he invited him to ask why he said he is not working under Nujoma and produced Swartbooi’s appointment letter, which specifies that his responsibility is to assist the appointed minister.
“When I read the letter I wrote to him, he just burst out attacking the minister for all kinds of things. So, I said my brother… you are so angry, why don’t you resign? Why keep someone when they are unhappy? We are a free country. I was demoted and I resigned and left. Why don’t you resign instead of being angry?”
He said Swartbooi instead packed his things and slammed the door behind him on the way out. Geingob noted that during Swartbooi’s outburst, he even forgot his mobile phone in the boardroom.
Prior to his resignation resigned from the Swapo Party, Swartbooi was quoted saying, “I am 99.9 percent not Swapo. The moment they withdraw me from the National Assembly (parliament), within 30 seconds I will resign from Swapo.”
Geingob also rubbished Swartbooi’s claims that he allegedly tried to bribe him with offers of ministerial position if he agreed to fight those alleged to be against the election of Geingob as Swapo Party president at the congress slated for November.
“Why do we tell lies? Is it good to tell lies, really? Is this how you’re going to lead people – by telling lies,’ he asked.
Geingob said other top officials, such the Omaheke and Omusati regional governors, were ordered to publicly apologise for inappropriate statements they had made, an instruction they readily heeded.
Omusati Governor Erginus Endjala on Monday issued a second public apology to the nation for tribally-charged remarks he made in a secretly-recorded audio clip against Aandonga people, politicians and youth activists.
His Omaheke counterpart, Festus Ueitele, was also made to apologise last year after he was also secretly recorded making tribal remarks against Ovaherero people in that region.