Just where are they now?

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Farayi Munyuki Some of them have become such a pathetic sight that you are bound to feel sorry for them. They were at the crest of this country’s politics. Now they seem to have lost hope of ever regaining their past glory. Members of the public look at them with great dismay. Some of them died miserably and had it not been for their relatives, they would have got paupers’ burials. These are former ministers in the interim government installed by the South African regime under Louis Botha in Pretoria. It was an all out effort to prevent Swapo from gaining power. It never succeeded. In their heydays, they governed this country and at times acted as true ministers. If only they knew. Today, they are a poor sight to look at. One who had been Swapo’s secretary for information is reported to be a security guard in the North. He had no choice but to accept what was given to him. He tried a political comeback but it never materialised. The other politician now lives in Denmark, from where he issues statements. Andrea Shipanga was once a formidable politician when he debunked Swapo for the South African regime. He even went as far as becoming minister of nature conservation, mining, commerce and tourism. Did he understand what he was in charge of? If the rumours are true that he is now a security guard at one supermarket in the North, then politics is not a game to play with. Others say he is running a shebeen in his own village. He abandoned the struggle and ended up with the South African regime that had enticed him to shorter green pastures. Then there is Andrew Matjila, once minister of education and central personnel. He has been in and out of most front pages of local newspapers as he dines in the circle of his fine friends. He is the only one to have organised his life well. He seems to have sensed that life for a cabinet minister under the South African regime had a bitter end. Some of his friends are now confirming this. He has gone into business. Andrew Matjila tried a comeback in one of the general elections but met with failure. His hopes of returning to parliament were dashed permanently when Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako resuscitated NUDO party and declared that he had nothing to do with those who once danced to the South African tune. He is still walking the streets and claims that he is a successful farmer. But farming in what? Jariretundu Kozonguizi died a few years ago. He became the first ombudsman under Swapo. He was highly respected. His knowledge of the role of chiefs was commendable. His personal input in the disputed island of Kasikili between Namibia and Botswana received accolades from President Sam Nujoma. He, however, succumbed to a long illness. In the interim arrangements he was minister of justice, information, post and telecommunication. A rather quiet and reserved person, he is missed by all his friends in the legal world. Would he have become one of the untouchables? Moses Katjiuongua, once minister of manpower, national health and welfare is still in an indeterminate state, but still hopes that there could be a turn for the better ahead. He is still a farmer but could not blame it on himself but the rains, which are erratic. His son has disgraced him. He once promised that he would hand him back to the police if he dared pitch up at his father’s farm – that was when he escaped from legal custody. His son has won a rather bad reputation of scaling down the walls of jails. He lights the fires of bad publicity for his father. The newspapers have to say the accused is a son of Moses Katjiuongua. They say so of Frederick Chiluba when his son faces the law because of drugs. It’s not him but Masire’s son, who has perfected the art of stealing BMWs in South Africa and his native country Botswana. They are both now languishing in prison. Captain Hans Diergaardt once argued that secession of Rehoboth from Namibia was the natural course for the people of Rehoboth to take. He said a lot of nasty things about the central government but as his life faded away, he came round and embraced a government of national unity. Before his death, he had been minister of local authorities and civic affairs. Many people came to pay their last respects at his funeral. Dick Mudge, former minister of finance and government affairs is still a big farmer and owner of one of the country’s biggest newspapers, Die Republikein. He is an accomplished farmer and business-person. His departure from DTA signalled its end as a political force. Whatever they are doing and wherever they are, former politicians in the South African interim government are having it tough. Do they deserve forgiveness and being absorbed in the government of today?