19 November 2009

Namibia: COD Condemns Widespread Graft

Katima Mulilo — The campaign for the Presidency and the 72 National Assembly seats reached a crescendo, with the Congress of Democrats (CoD) lashing out at the Swapo Party over the weekend.

Both CoD President, Ben Ulenga, and his deputy, Alfred Chilinda, did not mince words when they addressed a rally of a few hundred people on Sunday at Ngweze Community Hall, where their main message was the scourge of corruption in the country.

"Namibia today is like a gangsters' paradise and the gangsters are Swapo leaders," said Ulenga, who accused the ruling party of being corrupt.

"Thirty million [Namibian dollars] (Avid) disappeared and the Swapo government behaves as if nothing has happened, N$100 million (ODC) disappeared and there was the NDF money (N$3 million) to buy arms. That is why I am saying CoD wants to put a stop to all this," Ulenga said.

He said some people involved in the theft of millions "belong in jail" and should be given lengthy jail terms.

Ulenga, who served as a People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighter and fought to liberate the country, said people who did not go into exile are being excluded from the current land resettlement scheme by being asked "were you in exile?"

If they do not reply in the affirmative and the same applies when some people seek work at regional councils, they are told "but you have not been in exile", Ulenga claimed.

"There is discrimination against some tribes," he charged at the rally, adding that this discrimination is based on ethnicity and the regions from where people originate.

"Discrimination is rife when it comes to the resettlement scheme, the end is nigh, we need to bring an end to this," Ulenga said.

Ulenga said freedom goes hand in glove with equality and justice and no Namibian wants to be treated as a second-class citizen.

"We want to be treated not as second-class citizens - we should all feel 100 percent Namibian," he told an ecstatic rally of CoD supporters.

He also used the forum to talk about the prolonged Caprivi high treason trial, saying it is a travesty of justice and a shame that permanently blotches Namibia's human rights record because 10 years after the uprising, all the high treason suspects have not been tried.

He said if elected to power, the CoD would halt corruption. He said Swapo leaders have not been sincere when it came to the way in which children of the political elite were granted Chinese bursaries. In this regard he wrote an open letter to President Hifikepunye Pohamba asking him to clarify numerous issues regarding the bursaries.

This month's elections "are about us Namibians reclaiming our freedom and democracy" he said, noting that some countries deny their people basic human rights.

"Namibia fought and gained independence in 1990. This freedom has been pulled from under our feet by the Swapo government and people are being denied their democratic rights," said Ulenga. He said there is an extremely high rate of unemployment with many people unemployed despite Namibia being rich in uranium, diamonds, gold and copper.

Ulenga also accused the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) of having stolen his party's colours. He charged that the RDP goes around at night telling people it is in a coalition with the CoD and dismissed this as a lie.

He accused RDP leader, Hidipo Hamutenya, of having been part of "stealing" of votes while in Swapo, denying CoD a victory. He said the RDP leader's recent "confession" does not make him less guilty of vote rigging because he "stole votes".

Chilinda urged the party's followers to bury the clenched fist of the ruling party, saying a closed fist portrays darkness while the star of his party represents light, hope and a new beginning for Namibians.

"The aim of this meeting is to tell you that we are going to bury the clenched fist, we are going to bury the finger or fingers (the party symbols of other parties). We are here for a purpose and that purpose is democracy," stated Chilinda.

Earlier, before the rally started, a raucous CoD crowd waving party flags drove through the streets of Katima Mulilo in a three-vehicle convoy chanting their party's slogans.

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