WINDHOEK, 1 NOV – Swapo members should not criticise the government on public platforms but rather during party caucuses or directly raise their issues with their comrades, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister, Zephamia Kameeta said.
A clearly agitated Kameeta made these remarks in the National Assembly on Tuesday, when he lectured his younger compatriot and Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Veikko Nekundi.
Kameeta was unhappy with comments Nekundi made earlier when he contributed to the Appropriation Amendment Bill.
Nekundi complained about the high public service wage bill; creation of multiple agencies; high social grants bill and the high capital outflow.
The deputy minister vented his frustration over challenges faced by those in informal sectors, such as the scarcity of land and the failure to bring them into the mainstream economy.
“If you look around Windhoek here, there are open barren land that nobody is using. (But) this land is allocated to merchants, people who have money yet these people who just need a square metre to trade from cannot get land.”
The former Swapo Party Youth League secretary challenged his fellow lawmakers to craft laws that put the interests and aspiration of Namibians at the fore.
“Which piece of legislation in the law tells the police officer to kick that basket over?” he asked, in reference to the way in which police forces at times evict street vendors.
“We must change the laws (so) they must speak to the realities. Or otherwise, the City of Windhoek must make sure that there is land available from which the people must sell,” he proposed.
On the allocation of social grants, Nekundi said: “I will have difficulty to come here and motivate a budget which is calling for social grants to be increased (for someone who is unemployment), the child must get this while this person had a chance to do business somewhere (but) land is not available.”
These comments did not sit well with the 73-year-old Kameeta who wanted Nekundi to be reprimanded by Swapo.
“Some of us know fights. It is just irresponsible that we as members who are ruling this country stand up in this and criticise things which we are supposed to change,” Kameeta said.
Nekundi did not sit back, saying, “I was addressing issues and not personalities”.
Asked what her take was on the verbal scuffle, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said: “That is an indication of democracy in Swapo. It means people can say what they feel.”
Asked if Nekundi would be disciplined by the party as per Kameeta’s recommendation, she said those were merely Kameeta’s views.
“We have always had robust discussions in Parliament. If I differed with somebody, I have differed with them whether they are Swapo members or opposition MPs,” she said.