Labour minister Utoni Nujoma has vehemently denied that he made derogatory remarks against his former subordinate and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi, saying it was not a Swapo culture to insult people.
“You see I grew up in a very strict house – my parents do not condone insults at all, so there is no way that I will insult someone let alone their parents. Insulting someone’s parent is like insulting my own parents, why will I do that? Why? So those allegations are not true at all,” Nujoma said when speaking to New Era on Wednesday night.
“I also grew up in the Swapo house where insults are unheard of – those allegations of me insulting are not true.”
He said that on Tuesday during the parliamentary session, while he was sitting and chatting to the Minister of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Doreen Sioka, Swartbooi turned up from nowhere and started questioning him (Nujoma) why he was staring at him.
“I then asked him why he was threatening me, are you normal. I then stood up, and that was the end of the story,” Nujoma narrated his version of the incident.
The ugly scene played out just before the start of the Tuesday session in the National Assembly. In widely circulated video footage on social media, Swartbooi and his deputy Henny Seibeb, in retaliation against inflammatory comments reportedly made by Nujoma against the opposition leader, could be seen being pulled away by other members of the National Assembly.
There is open hostility between Swartbooi and Nujoma since 2017 when the former called his then immediate superior (Nujoma) at the land reform ministry an “idiot” in the National Assembly.
Swartbooi had made the remark whilst still serving as a Swapo MP and deputy minister of land reform. President Hage Geingob later fired Swartbooi after he refused to apologise to Nujoma. Swartbooi later quit the ruling party and co-founded LPM.
Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi was evasive on Wednesday on what possible action the National Assembly would take after a war of words broke out between the two parliamentarians.
“All we can say at this point is that there are rules and procedures to be followed in dealing with such matters. When that process is finalised, the appropriate information will be shared accordingly,” Katjavivi told New Era through National Assembly spokesperson David Nahogandja on Wednesday.
The LPM, through its chief whip Seibeb, claimed Nujoma used the f-word and “some explicit language”, which according to him bordered on cursing Swartbooi’ s mother.