RP hedges bets on ex-soldiers

The Republican Party says it will challenge Swapo in court over the non-recognition of former soldiers as war veterans.

15 October 2019 | Politics

The Republican Party (RP) has corralled former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers still looking for a political home to bolster its ranks in the upcoming elections.

During the 2014 general election many of these ex-soldiers used the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) as a springboard to get to parliament, where they had hoped to amplify their demand to be recognised as war veterans.

This year, many other ex-soldiers who have lobbied for veteran status under the banner of the Namibia War Veterans Trust (Namvet) will contest the general election as the long-dormant National Patriot Front (NPF), a party formed by the late Moses Katjiuongua in 1989.

Speaking at the RP congress over the weekend, RP president Henk Mudge said the non-recognition of the former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers by the Swapo government was “unconstitutional” and “pure discrimination”.

Mudge said the RP would challenge the Swapo government in court for refusing to acknowledge the ex-soldiers as war veterans and would seek support from human rights organisations to support its challenge.

“If we talk of national reconciliation, then you have to reconcile with everybody. You cannot choose who you are going to reconcile with,” he said.

Mudge said President Hage Geingob should take lessons from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who brought about national reconciliation after the horrific ethnic cleansing in 1994 when more than one million people were slaughtered, but also rooted out corruption within two years after the genocidal killings.

Nujoma to blame

Mudge said he blamed “every single death during the war” on Sam Nujoma and his Swapo leadership of the time because they had refused to join other parties inside the country and participate in the 1978 election, as had been agreed with the United Nations (UN).

Curiously, Mudge said, in the same year [1978] the UN allowed these internal elections, it recognised Swapo as the “sole and authentic representatives” of the people of this country.

“What a joke,” Mudge declared, saying that Swapo was “not interested in a democratic solution, but they wanted to take SWA over by force”.

He said had Swapo participated in the 1978 election, independence would have come earlier and fewer people would have died.

Instead, Mudge said, citizens were drafted into armed conflict and SWATF and Koevoet were formed.

“Can anyone blame these soldiers for having fought in that war in order to prevent a communist takeover as was propagated by South Africa?” Mudge questioned.

“We all agreed that there were atrocities committed by Koevoet soldiers that should never have happened, but it was a war and they were trained by South Africa to be killing machines and we all know how ordinary people can be indoctrinated; just ask Swapo themselves, because they are past masters when it comes to this.”

Mudge said Swapo should “stop lying and accusing other people”, especially former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers, for Namibian deaths.

“Be man enough and acknowledge that you were responsible for not only the deaths of everybody that died in combat, but also come clean and tell the families of those Swapo members who disappeared in your camps, especially the Lubango dungeons. They deserve it,” Mudge said.

Elected to the RP leadership over the weekend were Mudge (president), Serafie Markus (vice-president), Clara !Gowases (chairperson), Herlinde Tjiveze (deputy chairperson), George Smeer (secretary general), Mathias Mbundu (deputy secretary general), Melody Gawanas (youth secretary), and Antolika Gowases (women's secretary).

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