Politics has no room in private affairs- Venaani

By Maria Kandjungu

POPULAR Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani has thrown his weight behind the fight for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) community while stating that politics has no room in people’s private affairs and personal choices.

Venaani made these remarks on Monday during his ‘real’ state of the nation address in Windhoek.

He said, “I have always said that we should not govern private and bedroom affairs. The lobbying is there [for the LGBTQ+ rights]. Their rights should be addressed…. I personally support the LGBTQ+ rights. You cannot dictate one’s private life just because of your cultural and religious beliefs. You cannot dictate that someone should lead a certain life to suit your beliefs.”

The president of the official opposition was responding to a call by Human Rights activist Rosa Namises who was a guest speaker at his state of national address. She asked the party leader to influence policies in addressing challenges faced by women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Namises stated that while she wants to see PDM formulating policies aimed at addressing and bringing about solutions to the socio-economic challenges facing the nation, she also wants to see the party supporting calls and initiatives to improve the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

“We need to inform ourselves to say what are the issues (affecting) the LGBTQ+ community, the San community, women and minorities? It is not just an issue of human rights, it is more and when we understand the root problems for these communities then it is more tangible.”

She further called on critics of minority groups to do their best to understand the plight of the communities before criticising them without the proper information.

Namises was not the only one who asked Venaani to take a stand, youth activist Dimbulukeni Nauyoma also asked the opposition leader to start speaking on topics regarding unpopular controversial issues.

“You need to speak on issues that are unpopular… you will harness the right votes. We also want to see you walk the talk and implement what you promise. Come 2024, we want to see different people at the helm of the dinner table,” Nauyoma noted.

Venaani’s support for the LGBTQ+ community comes after the leader of the South West Africa National Union (SWANU) Tangeni Iiyambo’s call for clear policies to be formulated addressing rights of this community.

Iiyambo made the call in the National Assembly recently while contributing to the discussion on the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare budget.

He stated that human rights are indivisible and that it was high time that they legislate clear laws that address the rights of the minority group.

“We need to be clear on the LGBTQ+ Act and laws on other discriminated groups… these laws seem not to be forthcoming,” Iiyambo said.

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) at one of its recent public engagements also invited Advocacy and Communications Officer for Out-Right Namibia Ndiilo Nthengwe to speak on the concerns of ‘sex, gender and sexual minorities’.

Nthengwe noted that it is very important for parliamentarians, and party presidents, to use their platforms to affirm the existence and humanity of minority persons in the country.

She said this would help to peel off the layers of homophobia and silencing of minority voices.

“It’s never been done before, especially with so much conviction, but let’s hope it materialises into something tangible that positively and appreciably impacts the livelihoods of sexual, gender and sex diverse persons in the country,” she stated.