The office of former president Dr Sam Nujoma last week expressed dismay about comments made about him on social media that question the former president’s liberation struggle credentials.
Social media users, including a former personal assistant at Swapo Party headquarters, Henny Seibeb, disputed that Nujoma was the founding president of the ruling Swapo party, as well as founding president of Namibia.
Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Dr Elijah Ngurare – expelled from Swapo last year until the Windhoek High Court ordered his reinstatement into the party – was among those who rushed to Nujoma’s defense, insisting the latter was both founding president of Swapo and of Namibia.
Ngurare said the term “founding” was used in reference to the fact that Nujoma was the first president of both the party and the country and not necessarily that he established the party or republic.
After picking up on the emotive exchanges on Facebook, Nujoma’s office issued a strongly-worded statement, in which it defended his legacy. “Since these juvenile detractors are best advised to research and study the founding president’s role in the struggle for liberation we have to set a few matters straight for their own benefit,” the statement reads. “It is an established fact that our modern legitimate struggle for national liberation was led by our founding president and father of the Namibian nation, Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma, and no amount of ‘revisionist history’ will alter that.
“The contribution that Dr Sam Nujoma has made towards the liberation of Namibia and subsequently its development is a matter of global record and no right-thinking individual could ever question it.
“He selflessly led Namibia’s liberation struggle with a majestic sense of purpose. In all those difficult times, ghastly as they were at times, Dr Nujoma provided rare leadership qualities, which saw us through to our national victory,” his office further said.The statement said Nujoma received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his selfless commitment to the cause of Namibia’s independence.
“One reason this misguided group has the freedom to speak this way right now, is precisely because of that freedom that was brought about by Dr Nujoma and many other gallant sons and daughters of Namibia… As a result of his outstanding role, he stands out as the symbol of our modern struggle for nationhood. He is a symbol of our freedom, a symbol of our peace and stability, a symbol of ‘One Namibia, One Nation’ and above all, an architect of the policy of national reconciliation.”To most Namibians, Nujoma is a hero of the Namibian liberation struggle, his office said. “In this sense, those who vilify him, knowingly or unknowingly, must be exposed for their unpatriotic actions and must be held to account for the consequences of their actions. Many questions are lingering in the minds of all… namely, why run this campaign against the founding president and most importantly, why now?”
“While we do not know what are the motives behind this campaign to discredit the good name of the founding father, one thing this group should know is that Dr Nujoma has survived worse than these unpatriotic efforts. In the crucible of the struggle, Dr Nujoma survived many onslaughts, directly and indirectly, orchestrated by the well-resourced and heinous apartheid regime of South Africa.”
His office said the ill-fated Pretoria regime spent millions of dollars not only to tarnish Nujoma’s reputation by casting aspersions on his person, but also by trying by all means to end his life prematurely.
“But despite all the resources at its disposal, the apartheid regime had failed dismally.”
“We hold the sacred values of free speech and expression in the highest regard, but it cannot be done at the expense of the destruction of the good names and reputations of others.
“Clearly this well-selected group of individuals are running a clearly orchestrated campaign against the founding president, or are doing so with the belief that the more you tell a lie, the more people will start believing it.”