The standoff between government and the protesting ex-combatants who are demanding monetary reward for their contribution to our freedom is unhealthy, unhelpful and unnecessary.
The fractious relationship and war of words between the two negatively contributes to the general political polarisation in the country and may constitute a security threat unless otherwise amicably resolved.
When ex-combatants call leaders derogatory names, accuse individual leaders of being corrupt and threaten to forcefully occupy farms especially those that belong to them – it is sign of things potentially gone horribly wrong.
Without sounding alarm bells, it may as well be that we are headed down a slippery road of instability and conflict. The peace and harmony that we have so far enjoyed may be evaporating right in our faces. Former Prime Minister Hage Geingob often jokes that peace is boring for some people. Well, we hope not in this particular case.
Hence, it is desirable that both parties engage in discussions to find common ground. This is not about who wins or who blinks first. In so many ways, it is a test of leadership on both sides.
Good leadership and statesmanship should rise above the current impasse. Both sides should resist the temptation to move towards the brink. This is absolutely necessary.
What is needed is commonsense and the willingness to engage in dialogue. Constructive engagement and not demagoguery would resolve the current standoff.
The ex-combatants must refrain from making threats of whatever kind. Both the leaders of government and the ex-combatants are long time friends. They were all at one time hunted down together and fought alongside each other for our liberation. Therefore, there is no reason why they should break ranks now and become bitter enemies.
The ex-combatants must understand that while critical debate on their plight is necessary, such debate must be well informed and kept within the confines of the law.
Perhaps the whole saga of ex-combatants camping in front of government offices would have been avoided if the necessary information about so-called UN money had been sought in the first place. It is inconceivable that both the United Nations and the government would have declined to provide answers on this issue. And why this was not done if indeed that is the case, we do not understand.
It is obvious that had the ex-combatants engaged government in meaningful dialogue, the whole misconception or misinformation about money that was supposedly provided by the United Nations for distribution to the ex-fighters would not have risen. That a lot of hot air is being blown around something that semmingly does not exist, is unfortunate.
Government has shown commitment and a desire to address the plight of ex-combatants in general. The ex-fighters have enjoyed priority in terms of job allocation in the security services and other institutions and where possible, they have been roped into development projects, sometimes at the expense of other citizens.
A ministry that would address the plight of the ex-fighters as well as a budget have just been passed. These are positive moves to be embraced by all. Of course, these measures and others that we did not mention will not adequately address the situation of ex-fighters in a day.
Those who are making demands must also appreciate that government has to look after the welfare of all Namibians irrespective of whether or not they participated in the war of liberation. Hence its priorities are diverse and the resources at its disposal scarce.
Finally, we hope that now that it is clear that no money was provided by the United Nations, the ex-combatants will put this whole saga behind them and move on with programmes that government is putting in place for them.
Let there be peace in this Land of the Brave.