Geingob is right

08 September 2017
We firmly back President Hage Geingob’s unequivocal stance on not recognising former SWATF and Koevoet members as veterans. 
In fact we cannot grasp any single straw of legitimacy in claims by many from this group of citizens, led by the informal spokesperson orga
nization Namibia War Veterans Trust (Namvet), for this status.
Those who fought hard to make sure the Republic of Namibia would not be born, must never benefit from the State coffers of an independent country that came to be in spite of their best efforts.
We see no logical foothold to begin a serious debate on paying the very people who committed themselves to the perpetuation of colonial rule in Namibia. 
We don’t understand why in 2017, when many of these former domestic terrorists are in their twilight years and are perhaps suffering the social and economic ramifications of their decades-old, poor choice to undercut their own people, they want benefits from those they betrayed.
In our view, this call by Namvet and their supporters for veterans benefits is not about the polemics and ideologies of who fought for whom and why, 30+ years ago in the struggle for independence. 
The feather ruffling for veteran status is not about history or reconciliation, but simply about money.  They want the lump sum payouts and the N$2,200 per month granted to legitimate veterans. 
As recognised veterans, they would get free funeral services, medical benefits and other considerations (in terms of certain bank loans, rankings for tender bids, SME support money and other business-related extras). 
Cynically speaking, if Government ever offers Namvet members forgiveness in terms of titular veteran status with ZERO benefits, services or other perks, then the truth will out in terms of what motivates these claims.  Their demands for the money will take center stage unadorned.
We feel that as citizens, these former domestic terrorists are only entitled to whatever benefits and services any other citizen receives, nothing more; nothing less.
While Namibia is a young country with ‘born frees’ approaching 30 with families of their own, the nightmares visited upon those who lived through the SWATF and Koevoet reign of terror decades ago, lives on. 
Speak to any of those who witnessed or personally suffered at the hands of Koevoet and SWATF and they will tell you in detail about the torture, harassment, burning of mahangu fields and eshisha bins full of food, theft of livestock, random detention, rape, molestation, destruction of household property, emotional torment, beatings and murders of their loved ones. 
Time has passed, but stories of the repression and violence are still regularly shared with younger family members, and deep bruises and scars still remain.
Former PLAN soldiers or SWAPO members (and supporters) operating in the North can tell you about what SWATF and Koevoet did to them – hearing their stories still brings tears, post-traumatic stress, nightmares and fear.
Many can give you the exact names of Koevoet or SWATF members that authored such pain and injustice and yet, younger family members of these domestic terrorists remain unaware of the brutalities that their fathers, uncles and grandfathers visited upon their own neighbours in order to help whites in South Africa (and Namibia) maintain control over the Land of the Brave.
It is truly a miracle of blessed restraint that after independence, most of those who perpetrated such horrors on their own people were not immediate victims of revenge violence.
The fact that so many of these former domestic terrorists can openly make their demands nearly 30 years later, is something that would not be the case in other countries that also suffered through violent wars of independence. Let those who believe they have claims, particularly in the case of SWATF, present those to South Africa - their former employers.  The Republic of Namibia owes them nothing; they are not veterans, period.
As a nation, we need to face so many other struggles and debates that affect people every day.  While we cannot continually accept aging politicians who constantly evoke the struggle for justice as their claim to leadership, we also cannot constantly have people attempting to extort money from the Government by exploiting the liberation struggle in negative ways.
Let us honour the real heroes that won independence for this nation, but let us face tomorrow using all that we have to build a better Namibia for our grandchildren.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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