28 August 2017

Namibia: President Rejects SWATF Compensation Demands

Photo: SWAPO
Koevoet (file photo).

Oshakati — President Hage Geingob has said his government will not compensate former soldiers of the colonial apartheid regime, who served in the South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet, a feared paramilitary police organisation at the time.

The Head of State made the remarks at the commemoration of Heroes Day at Oshakati Independence Stadium on Saturday.

Dismissing the demands of the former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers, he said the Swapo government will never compensate them and that they should demand payment from their former employers, who recruited them to do the dirty work of oppressing the Namibian people.

President Geingob reiterated that their demand for compensation is out of the question and will not be considered.

"We will never be convinced that entertaining the demands of former Koevoet soldiers to be recognised as war veterans is constructive. They were paid by those who hired them and will not receive compensation from [this] government.

"Similarly, we will never be convinced that the selective calls to re-open the so-called Swapo dungeons is in favour of nation-building," he remarked, adding that the issue of the dungeons cannot be taken up, as it contradicts the policy of national reconciliation and the amnesty granted to all parties by the United Nations at Independence.

The president said he was perturbed by the trend of untruthful public statements gaining traction in Namibia.

"The wounds of the struggle will never go away. However, we have learned to live with one another, regardless of the roles played during the struggle," he said.

"The policy of national reconciliation is there for a reason and trying to selectively open that painful chapter will open the floodgates of anger. The individualistic pursuits of a few should never be allowed to undermine the peace that Namibians have enjoyed since independence."

President Geingob said the policy of reconciliation was there for a reason and that trying to selectively probe that chapter in the country's history would evoke anger in many.

The Head of the State said many people sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the country and will forever be remembered for their heroism and called on Namibians to fight against negative and divisive tendencies and to promote peace in the spirit of Harambee.

"Are we ready to come together as a united people in the spirit of Harambee to move forward towards Vision 2030 as one Namibia, one nation? Let us thoroughly examine our hearts and remember that we must bring the struggle to its logical conclusion of political, social and economic inclusivity," the president underlined.

He said the bravery of the Namibian people against oppressors can be traced back to the 1800s and was characterised by great sacrifice and determination throughout.

"We remember the bravery of these heroic patriots whose blood waters our freedom. We remember a nation that united to fight a common enemy. We remember the casspirs, the helicopters, the racism and we say: 'Never again!'"

He called on all Namibians to commit to taking the country forward in an inclusive manner and to ensure that the pursuit of the policy of 'One Namibia, One Nation' includes the dismantling of structural inequalities and the barriers that keep people in poverty.

"Let us arm ourselves with the necessary armour and weaponry to ensure victory in this second phase of our struggle."

The president went on to remind citizens to take cognisance of the fact that although Heroes Day honours the fallen heroes and heroines of Namibia, many legendary figures are still alive and continue to play an important role in their communities and in the country's development.

"Namibia is also full of everyday heroes and heroines, whose selfless sacrifices are inspired by a love for their fellow countrymen and women and not a desire for accolades," President Geingob observed.

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