By Kuvee Kangueehi
Namibia will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale on March 23 and Government has lined up a series of activities which will be led by the Namibian Chapter on the Liberation Heritage.
The celebrations spanning over a week kicked off last Thursday with a press conference which was addressed by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Brigadier General Nakanduungileh, who commanded the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the decisive battle of Cuito Cuanavale is no doubt Namibia’s liberation heritage and cannot be allowed to pass without being noted in the future.
She noted that the new era of Namibia’s liberation struggle was not only fought inside Namibia as neighboring countries rendered their support, including hosting the military operational bases of the Southern African liberation movements.
The minister said at times, the citizens of those hosting liberation movements fought along side freedom fighters when their territories were invaded by the then racist regime of South Africa.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the racist regime of South Africa with its mighty army as it was referred to at that time, was engaged in the destabilization of Southern African independent states, particularly Angola in an attempt to stop Namibia’s independence that was ever imminent.
She said that the unwarranted behavior of the Apartheid forces was met by solidarity support for Angola and the Swapo liberation movement from friends of social justice such as Cuba, the then Soviet Union and other Socialist countries.
Nandi-Ndaitwah added that in 1975, the then racist troops of South Africa tried to occupy Luanda and to install the Savimbi regime in that country against the will of the Angolan people.
She said the operation was termed ‘Operation Savannah’ and at the request of the Angolan Government and in line with international solidarity, the people of Cuba came to help Angola.
According to the minister, a contingent of military personnel was sent to Angola and helped to drive the racist regime back.
She said that on the other hand, the Swapo Party had also strengthened its military capacity while the diplomatic struggle on Namibia’s independence was going on.
“The diplomatic front was characterized by the intransigence of the occupational regime in Namibia that hoped that in spending over N$3 million daily on military operations, it would defeat the spirit and the will of the people to independence and self-determination.”
Giving a brief account of the day, Nandi-Ndaitwah said FAPLA, PLAN and the Cuban Internationalist Forces successfully carried out their responsibility on that remarkable day at Cuito Cuanavale.
“The battle of Cuito Cuanavale has changed both the military and political situation in Southern Africa in favour of the oppressed people and the apartheid forces went on their knees and were forced to opt for negotiations for the independence of Namibia, which had been tactfully linked to the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola.”
She said the journey through Cuito Cuanavale to Namibia is a light to independent Namibia and it formed the roadmap to the total liberation of Namibia and the end of political injustices perpetrated by the Apartheid regime against the Namibian people.
“It brought the realization of the dream of our commitments and dedication to the struggle for justice.”
Nandi-Ndaitwah said the sacrifices of the lives of the noble people of Namibia, Angola, Cuba and other peace-loving people had paid off in the dignified victory.
The climax of the celebrations will be a military convoy march along Independence Avenue from downtown up to the Sam Nujoma Stadium, where the main event will take place on Saturday, March 23, 2008.