Rukoro talks ‘Third Force’
OvaHerero Paramount Chief Advocate Vekuii Rukoro has made startling allegations that a “Third Force” in government is working toward destabilising the current regime and his tribe.
The ‘Third Force’ was a term used by leaders of South Africa’s African National Congress during the late 1980s and early 1990s, to refer to a clandestine force that was believed to be behind a surge in violence in KwaZulu-Natal, and townships around and south of the Witwatersrand.
Rukoro’s revelations this week came after Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa allegedly ignored a directive from President Hage Geingob to withdraw her order granting the Maharero Traditional Authority permission to hold their Red Flag Day commemorations at an Okahandja plot owned by the OvaHerero Traditional Authority (OTA).
“It was on the 24th, that Wednesday night, that Honourable Shaningwa was instructed by the president to withdraw the illegal permission she had given to Chief Maharero to use our land. What did she do after being ordered by the president on Wednesday to withdraw? Thursday morning, she instructed the Acting Government Attorney, who wrote to Mr Kauta our lawyer, advising us that she will not be withdrawing her order,” Rukoro told the Windhoek Observer in an exclusive interview.
“The question is: On whose authority was she doing this? I’m saying clearly she has another bigger boss with higher power and authority than the one who’s paying her salary today.”
The order by the Head of State came after Rukoro had threatened to institute legal action over the decision by Shaningwa, a move that saw officials from the presidency communicating this position to Rukoro’s OTA.
Attorney General Sackeus Shanghala communicated this position in a letter dated 25 August which read: “As discussed with yourselves, the Minister of Urban and Rural Development has withdrawn her August 22 letter addressed to the Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority, in which she purports to grant the Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority permission to utilise Erf 1755, Okahandja.”
However, a defiant Shaningwa, through the Acting Government Attorney, Matheus Kashindi, penned another letter on the same day in which she said she will not be rescinding her decision to give permission to the Maharero Traditional Authority.
“We act on behalf of our client (the Minister of Urban and Rural Development) in this matter, and on whose instructions we are sending this letter to you. It is our instruction to inform you that our client will not retract her letter dated 22 August to the Maharero Royal House Traditional Authority,” the letter from Kashindi read.
Rukuro attributed his tribe’s woes to the faceless “Third Force” grouping, which he said had an ulterior motive.
“This higher authority and unelected government is the one that told her, for instance, not to recognise me as a chief of the OvaHerero people, which is illegal and constitutionally wrong. It is only when it comes to me and my OvaHerero Traditional Authority, where I am told I cannot enjoy the same rights. When you ask why, you are told it is because ‘Chief Maharero objects to you’,” he said.
“I don’t want any special treatment at all. I want the same treatment as all the other traditional authorities. We are being continuously oppressed and the question is why and until when?
“That’s our question. And until now I have not heard anybody in government standing up and explaining to this nation why the Herero people are being singled out.”
Rukoro said his tribe continue to be treated as second-class citizens despite having been at the forefront of the struggle for independence.
“The only frustration that I have is that my people, who are the very first people whose blood started to water the freedom of this land, when they were subjected to genocide, when they became the first political refugees of the land, are still living in neighbouring countries as refugees, and are being treated as second-class citizens in their own country,” he said.
“As I have explained here, yes that makes me a frustrated person, because we shouldn’t be getting a raw deal from our own government. I expect to get a raw deal from the Boers, from the Germans, but not from my own government.
“These are the things which lead to unnecessary tension in a country, and between communities. Our Constitution talks about justice for all, and that is what leaders commit to in their oath of office. We are not getting justice at this point in time - not at all! We are getting a raw deal, that’s a fact.”
He said his recent sentiments on the so-called Owambo government, were a general feeling across the country.
“I’m simply saying out loud what thousands of other non-Oshiwambo-speaking Namibians are saying everyday quietly in their living rooms, in their bedrooms, in restaurants, in government offices, up and down this country, and that includes ministers as well. That’s the talk of town and in the villages, and that’s a fact,” the OvaHerero paramount chief said.
“Thousands continue to whisper the same phrase and all I did was to stand up and say it out loud - this time not in relation to your (President Hage Geingob’s) government, which is my government - but in relation to that unelected shadowy government, which is behind the ‘Okalongo’ agenda against the OvaHerero people.
“People want to attribute my statement to tribalism. The tribalism label will not stick with me; I’ve never been one and will never be one. All my life I have fought tribalism and apartheid. I’ve been part of the liberation movement since I was a teenager.”
Rukoro said he has no political ambitions, rubbishing claims that his stance was attention-seeking for a political appointment.
“I am a traditional leader of a very proud people, the OvaHerero of Namibia, and that is the platform I am content with. I don’t seek political office and if I wanted one, I know where to go for a political office, which is by following the SWAPO Party structures.
“I worked in government and left illustrious footprints. I left government voluntarily. I entered the private sector and when I entered the private sector, I was at the helm of major private sector corporation. I am a chief executive officer of a company in the real economy. I am not pushing papers; I am presiding over a real economic corporate of an industry (Meatco), which is worth more than N$2 billion,” he said.
“I finished my agenda in government. What I receive here in terms of remuneration - my goodness - I would take a huge pay cut if I went back to government. It will be a huge sacrifice for my family. Why would I want to do it?
“I am not crazy for political office in any shape or form, I am happy where I am; I am not looking for anything remotely political at this point in time. What I am looking for is for my people to be given a fair deal, that’s all. Give me that and I will be a very good partner with my government, in terms of social and economic development, not only for my people, but for the rest of Namibia.”
Contacted for a comment on her actions and allegations raised by Rukoro, Shaningwa refused to comment, saying she was out of town.
The Red Flag Day commemorations at Okahandja are an annual event observed every year on 26 August, as a way of paying homage to the fallen chiefs buried at the shrine.