Swapo struggle victory not falsified

30 January 2019 | Columns


I have noted with interest an article published in Namibian Sun on 8 January 2019 on the front page with the headline: 'Swapo liberation victory falsified - Diescho'.

The article distorts the history of the liberation struggle of the people of Namibia led by their vanguard movement, Swapo, and I wish to put things into perspective. Swapo won a convincing political and military victory against the South African apartheid regime's illegal occupation of Namibia, and this is not “falsified”, as claimed by Professor Joseph Diescho.

Professor Diescho was quoted in the article as having said: “The truth is there was no party that won a war. We lie when we say we defeated the white regime. We defeated nobody.

“It was an international, peaceful negotiated settlement, with no winner no loser, Resolution 435.” Professor Diescho went on to say: “Swapo did not march in here with tanks to throw the white people out.

“The white people who are in Namibia were part of those negotiations. As a matter of fact, Swapo lost the election in 1989 - that militates against the lie that they defeated the enemy.”

It is not clear who Professor Diescho included when he said, “we lie when we say we defeated the white regime. We defeated nobody.”

I must emphatically state that the word “we” used by Professor Diescho does not include the vast majority of the Namibian patriots, especially those who fought under the leadership of Swapo, some of whom paid the ultimate price with their lives and limbs for the independence of their country, and the restoration of the human dignity of its people.


The assertion by Professor Diescho that, “as a matter of fact Swapo lost the election in 1989”, is nothing but utter sophistry - a forlorn attempt to rewrite and distort the history of the liberation struggle of the people of Namibia led by their vanguard movement, Swapo.

How anyone, let alone an academic like Professor Diescho, can honestly claim that Swapo “lost” the independence elections in 1989, is simply beyond belief.

As for Professor Diescho's assertion that, “Swapo did not march in here with tanks to throw the white people out”, he and others should be reminded that it has never been the policy of Swapo to “throw the white people out” of Namibia.

The Swapo policy was to liberate all Namibians, irrespective of colour or race, from colonial oppression and not to “throw the white people out”, as propagated by the apartheid regime.

Professor Diescho should also be reminded that it was the sustained and relentless determination of the combined Angolan, Cuban and combatants of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) that decisively destroyed the myth of South Africa's military invincibility at the epoch-making battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which inflicted a humiliating defeat on South Africa's invading force.

Conceding defeat

The erstwhile South African military leaders - General Magnus Malan, General Jan Geldenhuys and General George Meiring - had conceded as much, however grudgingly.

Thus, Swapo did not need to “march in here with tanks to throw the white people out”.

This is a deliberate and wilful distortion of the policy of Swapo and the history of the liberation struggle, designed to mislead young and future generations of Namibians. The core and ultimate objective of Swapo and its military wing (PLAN) was to defeat the political, ideological and economic foundations that underpinned the illegal apartheid occupation of our country.

Our struggle was “the continuation of politics by other means”, to quote Carl von Clausewitz, a renowned German military strategist.

As a direct result of this multi-pronged Swapo strategy to wage the struggle at three mutually re-enforcing fronts - popular political mobilisation at home, an extensive and concerted diplomatic campaign abroad and sustained and effective military operations at the battlefront - the apartheid ideology was declared a crime against humanity by the international community. Similarly, the apartheid regime was suspended from the United Nations and from many international sporting organisations.

Importantly, the apartheid economy was crippled by international economic sanctions and an arms embargo.

Swapo was recognised by the United Nations and progressive governments the world over as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people.

This recognition was resoundingly confirmed during the 1989 independence elections, when Swapo won 41 out of 72 seats in the Constituent Assembly or 57% of the votes.

These are indisputable and immutable historical facts. Attempts to deny or distort that victory can only be aimed at the desecration of the memories of the Namibian heroines and heroes who paid with their lives.

Namibia is free

Namibian citizens have the constitutionally guaranteed right of freedom of expression, including the right to criticise the policies and perceived deficiencies in the governance of the country.

And I for one will always fiercely defend the unfettered exercise of such rights. But neither anger at nor frustration with the governance of the country by the Swapo-led government should lead any Namibian citizen, including Professor Diescho, to call into question the glorious history of the Namibian people.

That Namibia is free, sovereign and independent from the daily humiliation of apartheid oppression should be the pride of every Namibian citizen, irrespective of their party political affiliation.

Those who fought bravely under the Swapo flag have the moral, historical and political obligation to steadfastly defend the gains of the struggle.

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