President Hage Geingob suggested it is hypocritical of Western nations that supported the repressive apartheid South African regime to now accuse late Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro of human rights violations when such nations themselves perpetuated similar crimes in southern Africa.
The apartheid minority regime committed many atrocities and human rights abuses, mostly against blacks, such as detaining them indefinitely without trial, extra-judicial killings, torture and denying the black majority decent wages, decent housing, the right to vote and restricting their free movement, among other gross violations.
Geingob last week aborted part of his plans of his visit to Europe to attend Castro’s funeral in Havana, Cuba, but was greeted by tough questions by the BBC about the fallen giant of socialism when he landed in London later in the week.
During an interview with the British broadcaster, Geingob was asked to explain why he is fond of the supposed ‘brutal dictator’ Castro to the extent that he had to briefly fly out of Europe to pay homage to the Cuban icon.
“Cuba and Fidel are loved in Namibia. They defended us against the enemy and educated 3 000 of of our people when no one else was willing to take in our people,” he said.
“When their mission in southern Africa was done, they never asked us for anything. If anything, the dictators are those who helped the apartheid South African government to muzzle us,” he said.
“The British, French and Americans shared bed with our enemies who were hell-bent on ensuring that we do not have basic freedoms, such as that of the press. They are in no position to talk about human rights when they supported our oppression. Cuba came to our rescue.”
Geingob’s predecessors, Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, were also in Cuba to pay their final respects to the man who assisted Swapo, then a liberation movement, with logistic and military support.
Other high profile African leaders – such as presidents Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe of South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively – also attended Castro’s funeral. Geingob was among a few leaders accorded a rare chance of speaking at Castro’s funeral, beamed live to millions of viewers globally.
Cuba provided military training for the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), Swapo’s armed wing.
As a result of this involvement Namibia usually supports Cuban policies on the international level, like in the case of the requested release of the Cuban Five.
Since independence in 1990, Namibia and Cuba have held joint meetings every two years for economic, scientific-technical and commercial cooperation.
In August 2012 it was announced that Namibia was preparing to ship 146 wild animals, including lions and elephants, to a Cuban zoo, an operation dubbed by the local media at the time as ‘Noah’s Ark’.