Outspoken Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) Member of Parliament, Salmon Fleermuys, has said Namibia also belongs to former Koevoet and SWATF soldiers that fought against PLAN combatants and they should not be made to feel left out.
Fleermuys made the remarks during the debate on the defence ministry’s budget allocation on Tuesday, where he also claimed Koevoet is wrongly portrayed to have been an army.
“Although they [Koevoet] were enemies previously, they did their work after independence. This country belongs to all of us, whether you like it or not, we are Namibians, we are not here to ride on anyone’s back,” he said much to the dismay of Swapo MPs.
Fleermuys’ remarks prompted a backlash from the benches of ruling party’s MPs.
Former PLAN combatant and Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma, did not take Fleermuys’ remarks lightly, saying: “Do not come here and defend the evil apartheid system that maimed our people.
“We will not tolerate such nonsense in this house,” said an infuriated Nujoma.
“Government has gone at length to reconcile, I want to make it clear that they [former Koevoet] must not forget that apartheid was condemned by the United Nations as a crime against humanity. Hundreds of Namibians were massacred by your forces, you must be prosecuted, you should not come here and praise yourself,” thundered Nujoma.
“Such things cannot be discussed, we were in the war and we know what happened. I am a fighter,” warned Nujoma.
Swapo MP and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Natanagwe Ithete said SWATF is not important and should not be taken as such.
“Some of us became orphans because of them [SWATF],” said Ithete.
Attorney General Sakeus Shanghala shouted in the background: “You want to come and make these things a joke.”
Shanghala’s mother was part of the 27 Namibians killed in the First National Bank (FNB) Oshakati branch on February 19, 1988, following a bomb blast.
DTA of Namibia MP Elma Dienda, in defence of young Namibians who joined the South African apartheid during the pre-independence era said those who joined SWATF did so by force.
“The people who joined SWATF did not join voluntarily, they were forced to join the army otherwise they would be jailed, it was not out of free will,” she said.
The Minister of Defence, Penda ya Ndakolo differed with Dienda saying those that joined SWATF did so voluntarily.
“We know the history and that people volunteered to join SWATF but today we take you [former SWATF] as brothers and sisters because of reconciliation. If we continue with this debate we will start a war in this chamber and it will spread across the country,” warned Ya Ndakolo.
He also said there are former Koevoet and SWATF soldiers in the Namibian military, a move that was made possible by the reconciliation policy.
Another DTA MP, Vipuakuje Muharukua, said war atrocities were committed on both sides of the war front. “If you want to say Koevoet killed people, then you must also talk of how the PLAN fighters killed the Ovahimba people,” Muharukua told Nujoma.
With much finger pointing and tempers at boiling point, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Loide Kasingo, warned MPs she would evict those who are pointing fingers from the chambers.
“If you are pointing fingers at each other I will send you out so that you can go and fight each other,” Kasingo said.
Swapo MP Nangolo Mbumba sought to brought calm in the chamber when he advised MPs to discuss the issue at an appropriate platform.
“You cannot solve this issue by shouting, take it up at the right platform. Some of you are even too young to remember the allegations you are making,” said Mbumba.