WINDHOEK, 12 JUN – Land Reform Minister Utoni Nujoma will go scot-free despite the utterances he made in an interview with a South African broadcaster on the grounds that he is the son of Namibia’s founding President, Sam Nujoma.
These are the sentiments held by Landless People’s Movement leader and former land reform deputy minister, Bernadus Swartbooi.
Speaking at a media conference here on Monday, Swartbooi condemned Nujoma for his remarks, asking him to do the honourable thing and to apologise and resign from office.
In an interview aired last week, Nujoma was quoted by South African broadcaster, eNCA as saying: “You cannot bring in a person from an informal settlement, put him there and hope that he will succeed to farm. We would like to resettle people who will really make a significant contribution to the GDP.”
He continued: “If you give a farm, a very expensive farm (for example) to a poor person, how will he run it?”
He was responding to eNCA’s investigative journalist, Nkepile Mabuse’s question on rich Namibians, including Cabinet ministers such as himself, being beneficiaries of the land reform programme ahead of the poor masses.
Swartbooi said no one in central government has “the guts to ask Nujoma to apologise”, nor will he voluntarily relinquish his position.
“He should either leave voluntarily, which I doubt he will do, or he should be fired, which (President Hage) Geingob will never do. Or he should apologise to the nation, which even if he did, he wouldn’t sincerely believe in his wrongfulness,” said Swartbooi, before asking who in government will take on “Sam’s child.”
Nujoma was on Monday quoted by local media outlets as denying his utterances, saying he had been misquoted and that the eNCA had used him to drive its own ulterior political agenda.
“In fact, that interview was not fair. It was taken out of context. It was deliberately done to tarnish my image,” Nujoma said in the Namibian Sun, a local daily newspaper on Monday.
In the past, several high-profile individuals were asked to withdraw controversial statements they made in the public domain by the President.
A case in point is Swartbooi, who during his time as deputy minister was asked to apologise for saying he did not report to Nujoma, who was his superior at the land reform ministry at the time.
Swartbooi refused to apologise, which subsequently led to his departure as deputy minister and his resignation from the ruling Swapo Party.
Other examples include Vice President Nangolo Mbumba, regional governors for Omaheke and Omusati, Festus Ueitele and Erginus Endjala, who were all asked by Geingob to apologise for offensive remarks they made.