LPM’s Civil War

… Swartbooi and Seibeb relationship sours

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) president Bernadus Swartbooi and his deputy, Henny Seibeb, have allegedly not been on speaking terms for over eight months.

This has raised concerns about the party’s unity ahead of the national election in November.

Firebrand politicians Swartbooi and Seibeb founded the LPM in 2017 as a movement and registered it as a political party advocating social justice and equality for all on 8 February 2019.

The party won 10 seats in the parliament – four in the National Assembly and six on the National Council.

However, the two leaders have now fallen out of favour with each other, with some party insiders claiming the LPM has turned into “a hotbed of gossip” and factions.

In November last year, Swartbooi and Seibeb appeared to be united when they hosted a joint press conference in Windhoek.

But sources claim the two have not had a detailed conversation since last July when they clashed at parliament.

This fallout is said to be widely known in the National Assembly.

Some lawmakers allegedly poke fun at the two for not talking to each other while seated next to each other.

Swartbooi last week, however, shot down claims that the party is divided and declined to answer questions about his relationship with Seibeb.

“The LPM will never break apart, no matter how hard attempts are made by anyone. We are just on an amazing growth trajectory,” he told The Namibian.

Seibeb confirmed that their relationship has been rocky.

He yesterday said his relationship with Swartbooi is not as it was when the LPM was formed.

“Our current relationship has undergone some strain and doesn’t reflect the camaraderie we shared during our time as students at the University of Namibia (Unam) and in the early days of the LPM,” Seibeb said.

“There have been some unfortunate developments that have soured our interactions, leading to a less-than-ideal situation where trust and harmony are lacking,” he said.


Party insiders point to several high-level meetings Seibeb did not attend this year.

He was not part of the LPM delegation to Casa Rosalia for president Hage Geingob’s memorial service in February.

This includes the lecture at parliament towards the end of February, titled ‘Reflection on the LPM Party over the Past Fove Years”.

Seibeb also skipped the LPM’s fifth anniversary at Tsumeb, as well as the party rally held at Grootfontein on 2 and 3 March.

It was at the Tsumeb event that former Swapo member and ex-deputy information minister Engel Nawatiseb officially joined the orange party.

Nawatiseb has since resigned from the party.

Seibeb was again absent at the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) event in Windhoek last Thursday, which was attended by Swartbooi and City of Windhoek councillor Ivan Skrywer.


Seibeb yesterday told The Namibian when they collaborated with other leaders to organise the LPM’s policy conference and people’s assembly (congress) in December, he had a hope for an improved relationship with Swartbooi.

“However, it seems our interactions have once again stalled. Our last attempt at communication was on 6 March during a session in parliament,” he said.

Seibeb said the disharmony within the party is a matter of concern for all members.

“Particularly among the party leadership, as we strive to uphold the values of cooperation and solidarity,” he said.

Seibeb said he did not attend the public lecture as he had a prior commitment that day and that he did not attend the fifth anniversary event at Tsumeb or the campaign at Grootfontein as he was attending his uncle’s funeral at Khorixas.

“I communicated this unavoidable absence to fellow party leaders, including the operative secretary Dawid Eigub, honourable Utaara Mootu, Duminga Ndala and Edson Isaaks. Additionally, I provided photographic evidence of my presence at the funeral to dispel any doubts. Any insinuation to the contrary is unfounded and malicious,” he said.

LPM sources says the party is affected by factions positioning themselves for the upcoming election.

Although it’s not clear which party leaders are in which camp, there is speculation that Mootu and youth leader Ndala are aligned with Swartbooi.

Ndala declined to comment when approached by The Namibian.

“I advise that you forward these questions to our national spokesperson,” she said.

Questions sent to Mootu were not answered.

“Kindly forward these questions to our spokesperson,” she said.

Another LPM leader who is said to have fallen out of favour with Swartbooi is Loskey Garoeb, the ex-leader of the ‘wise’ (equivalent to an elders’ council).

Garoeb yesterday said he had retired from his position as leader of ‘the wise’ on 4 February.

He said he decided to retire because he is 66 years old, but will remain an ordinary member of the LPM.
“I will not go into detail as to why I have decided to retire,” he said.


Political analyst Wade Henckert says the situation has cast doubt on the LPM’s unity and cohesion.

He says internal disagreements can be damaging to party’s election prospects since they alienate supporters and weaken the party’s message of change and reform.

“The threat of internal strife provides a chance for other political players, particularly the ruling Swapo party, to exploit the LPM’s weaknesses,” he says.

Henckert says Swapo, which suffered blows to the LPM in the Hardap and //Kharas regions in the 2020 elections, may try to capitalise on the LPM’s divides.

“However, it is premature to reject the movement completely. Despite internal issues, the LPM continues to appeal to parts of the populace dissatisfied with established political parties,” he says.


LPM spokesperson Lifalaza Simataa yesterday described the relationship between Swartbooi and Seibeb as “professional and civil”.

“Honourable Swartbooi carries himself with respect to all members within the party and structure,” he said.

Queried about Seibeb’s recent absence at key party events, Simataa said: “The LPM will not tolerate an interrogation on the work ethic and loyalty of honourable Seibeb to the party.”

He said the media is attempting to put Seibeb in a negative light.

Simataa said Seibeb did not make it to the party’s public lecture because he had a commitment to honour elsewhere, adding he was key in organising the lecture.

He said Seibeb had tendered an apology for missing the party’s fifth anniversay events, saying he was to attend the funeral of a close family friend.

Simataa insisted that Seibeb was not the only LPM leader who could not make these events.

Others who missed the events are Outjo mayor Johannes Bapello and City of Windhoek councillor Sade Gawanas, he said.

Simataa said it was not mandatory for Seibeb to attend the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s 2024 electoral calendar launch.

On the party’s delegation to Casa Rosalia, he said it was not a formalised delegation and Seibeb was not the only one who was not part of the delegation.

Simataa claimed the LPM is currently the only opposition party which had a successful congress.

“These are underhanded tactics you can expect in politics, however they [allegations of disunity] hold no water,” he said.
He said Seibeb is a “robust and direct speaker”.

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