The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) has shown ex-Koevoet and South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) members where to get off as far as their demands to be recognised as war veterans with access to state benefits are concerned.
The political youth wing also warned outsiders who are instigating the former apartheid soldiers into their actions, adding they must respect the country’s sovereignty and not interfere with its domestic affairs.
Sounding the warning was SPYL acting secretary and Swapo backbencher Veikko Nekundi, who spoke to New Era recently.
“We cannot have people who were fighting against the independence of this country now demanding to be recognised as war veterans,” Nekundi explained.
“You cannot work for one company and go claim your pension money from another. They must go to their former employers. Those people they used to work for,” he said.
Nekundi added that these soldiers were responsible for the killing of Namibians and fought that the country not become independent at all, and they cannot come now and make demands from the same government they fought against.
He further warned that the peace the country enjoys should not be taken for granted and that independence came by bloodshed and it will be defended in the same manner.
The youth politician stressed that government has through the policy of national reconciliation absorbed some of these ex-soldiers who fought against them, into various departments of the state and that also must not be taken for granted.
Since independence the ex-Koevoets and SWATFs have been pushing government into a corner in their bid to be recognised as war veterans – just like the former fighters of Swapo’s liberation military arm, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), are recognised.
The ex-soldiers recently marched under the auspices of the Namibia War Veterans Trust (Namvet) to the British High Commission offices in Windhoek to hand over a petition in which they asked the international community to put pressure on the Namibian government to recognise them.
However, the British government maintained that it sees the demands by former SWATF and Koevoet members – to be recognised as war veterans entitled to benefits stipulated in the Veterans Act of 2008 – as a purely Namibian domestic issue which must be handled internally.
Earlier this year, a group, under Namvet, was joined by a high-profile DTA delegation, including DTA president McHenry Venaani, in a march from the Ovaherero Commando, where they were camping in tents, to deliver a petition to National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi.
The petition, delivered on the group’s behalf by Namvet chairman Jabulani Ndeunyema, requested that Katjavivi rescind the ‘discriminatory’ provisions of the said act.
They also requested Ombudsman Advocate John Walters to exercise his powers as provided for in the constitution to help rescind the “discriminatory provisions” of the act.
SWATF was an auxiliary arm of the South African Defence Force and comprised the armed forces of South-West Africa (now Namibia) from 1977 to 1989.
It emerged as a product of South Africa’s political control of the territory which was granted to the former as a League of Nations mandate following World War I.
Similarly, Koevoet was a major paramilitary organisation under apartheid South Africa and an active belligerent from 1979 to 1990 in the Namibian war of independence
Both SWATF and Koevoet are known to have perpetrated gross violations of human rights, including killings of civilians during Namibia’s liberation struggle.