SPYL and SA Diplomat Coetzee Mend Fences

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By John Ekongo

WINDHOEK

The spat between Pieter Coetzee, Counsellor at the South African High Commission and Bernadus Swartbooi, the SWAPO Party Youth League’s Acting Secretary for Information and Publicity, has been resolved, the two parties announced over the weekend.

The two parties met on Friday to iron out their differences over remarks that had caused raptures, with both parties receiving criticism from the public.
It all started when the SPYL through the public broadcaster NBC on May 26 blamed the xenophobic attacks in South Africa on a purported “third force”.

SPYL also alleged that the attacks would in turn force affected Zimbabwean nationals to go back to their country and vote for the Movement for Democratic Change of Morgan Tsvangirai.
In turn, Coetzee hit back saying that such remarks were not encouraging, they were “rubbish” and lacked substance.

These remarks led to a war of words between the two parties in public.
On May 28, the SPYL crafted a strongly-worded letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs calling for action against Coetzee and also stating that he cannot be further welcomed in Namibia.

“We conclude that Mr Coetzee serves no substantive interest, commitment, ability nor mutual respect in protecting and strengthening often sensitive and fragile inter-state relations.

“We believe that little can be done to salvage the bad taste that Mr Coetzee’s statements have left among the rank and file of the entire Namibian youth. He cannot be further welcome in Namibia,” the SPYL letter stated at the time.
On the contrary, however, something was indeed salvaged out of the situation.

“I Pieter Coetzee, Counsellor at the South African High Commission, have met on Friday, 6 June with the Secretary of the SWAPO Party Youth League and the Acting Information Secretary to convey my apology for my over-reaction to the statement that the SPYL made on the xenophobic attacks recently in South Africa,” read a statement by Coetzee.

He continued: “I do regret this incident and express hope that this incident will not harm the good relations between the South African High Commission, the SPYL and the people of Namibia.”

On its part SPYL accepted the apology, stating: “We believe that this unpleasant chapter has eventually been closed, a new page has been turned.”
Henceforth, the two parties have agreed to work together to build closer relations of co-operation and partnership.

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