“We promise freedom. They charge us with treason.”

A call for solidarity from the Landless People’s Movement.
As the Landless People's Movement becomes a serious political threat to Nambia's ruling party, the regime cracks down on its activists and parliamentarians.
As the Landless People's Movement becomes a serious political threat to Nambia's ruling party, the regime cracks down on its activists and parliamentarians.

Our democratic state was born a mere 31 years ago with the consistent aid and guidance of the international community. Sadly, after independence, a de facto one-party state was created and governed by the ruling party, SWAPO. Since then, poverty, executive dictatorship, human rights abuse, majoritarianism and corruption have come to define today’s political and economic landscape.

This corrosive tendencies of corruption and maladministration that saw many African nations trapped in anarchy have also become commonplace within state institutions in Namibia. While electoral democracy was kept “alive”, a massive security apparatus was developed to undermine any effective and substantive multi-party democracy.

Surprising to all and sundry, including the SWAPO regime, the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) won two out of 14 regions as well as over 25 local authorities in the country only one year and nine months after its formation. This made it the official opposition party in the National Council – the Upper House of Legislature of the Republic of Namibia – and effectively the second largest political formation in Namibia. The party is also represented by four leaders at national level in the National Assembly.

This outcome of both the national and presidential elections and the local and regional authority elections was unexpected, and it shook the ruling corrupt elite to its core, as they realized that their popularity was waning fast. Currently, the LPM is the fastest growing political formation in the country, founded on the principles of social democracy, restorative justice and freedom for all.

In fact, SWAPO has been forced to recognize that the LPM is the single largest threat to its political survival at the next national elections in 2024. To try and silence the LPM and its leaders, SWAPO has now resorted to political assassination attempts, acts of intimidation, threats and violence. On 17 April 2021, SWAPO manufactured High Treason charges against LPM leaders after a heated State of the Nation Address two days earlier. During the address, the Head of State failed to give an appropriate response to Parliament pertaining to the Prime Minister’s controversial farms deal from which he is alleged to have profited generously, purchasing and reselling farmland that was earmarked for vulnerable communities.

The LPM’s top two leaders, Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb were forcefully removed from the Assembly Chamber by security personnel of President Hage Geingob for alleged unruly behavior, ordered by the Speaker of the National Assembly. The two leaders are now suspended from Parliament indefinitely.

In response, disgruntled members and supporters of the LPM took to the streets all over the country on several occasions during the past two months to demand from Parliament, among other things, the reinstatement of their leaders, the resignation of the Speaker for biased behaviour, the suspension of the Prime Minister pending the outcome of an investigation into the suspicious farm deals, the withdrawal of fictitious “High Treason” charges against the two leaders and the prosecution of the President’s bodyguard for trespassing and assaulting a duly elected parliamentarian in the Chamber.

The LPM leaders filed an urgent application with the High Court on 22 April 2021, challenging that as duly elected members of the National Assembly, they be allowed to attend sessions of Parliament and to partake in sessions, but it was refused by the courts on 6 May 2021. It has become evident that the principle of separation of powers no longer applies in reality, as the Judiciary is captured by SWAPO’s corrosive political interests.

In matters that are politically charged and that involve SWAPO functionaries, the Judiciary always tramples on the rights of others. It is suspicious how full-time Judge Collins Parker, who was to preside over the matter was abruptly removed and was substituted with Acting Judge Kobus Miller. Why was such an important case that involved another arm of State given to an Acting Judge? Acting Judges are in constant fear of being removed if they do not abide by instructions from SWAPO functionaries since they do not have security of tenure. Miller in his judgment stated that the conduct of the applicants (LPM Leadership) should trigger an investigation. This is a clear sign of bias. He never ventilated the core matters. Furthermore, the adverse cost order which LPM was mandated to pay the costs of the first respondent, in our view, seeks to discourage democrats from seeking recourse at the Courts. These are all signs of a captured and compromised Judiciary.

Namibia has slid into an irreversible and dangerous capture and control of the Judiciary, reminiscent of other African countries that degenerated into despotic and autocratic regimes. The resultant demise of the Judiciary has made other arms of the state redundant. We have entered the lethal and unconstitutional terrain of Executive Dominance, which actually suspended the Constitution of the Republic in substance, but maintains a mere formative semblance of constitutional order.

Beatings of LPM members by the police and the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) have become rampant. For instance, two weeks ago in a suburb called Katutura in Windhoek, LPM members were assaulted by police forces and NDF elements. There is general lawlessness perpetrated against LPM and around the country against innocent civilians, as SWAPO is losing power sooner than they expected.

The two LPM leaders have complained of being followed around with daily threats of assassinations through poisoning by state intelligence and other state security apparatus. In the event, that the criminal state is increasing its assault on their lives, and that of the lives of their families, the LPM’s leaders have also made requests for political asylum. In a letter addressed to several embassies and civil organisations, the LPM said that it was prepared for and stood ready to fight through democratic means, “for new political dispensation in Namibia, which will ensure social, economic and constitutional democracy in our country.”

Photo: Landless People's Movement

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