Putting the Koevoet debacle to bed

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For the umpteenth time, President Hage Geingob had again to answer questions yesterday on what is to be done for former members of the notorious colonial armed units of Koevoet and SWATF.

It is a recurring question that takes up valuable time during the all-important State of the Nation Address (SONA), where the opposition gets a rare chance to publicly engage the president in a question and answer session.

We are always impressed by the frank nature of President Geingob’s responses to this rather sensitive question. Those posing the question – of what government plans to do to reward former members of South African-backed killer units – are testing the patience of our people, many of whom lost their kith and kin to Koevoet and SWATF.

Yesterday Geingob again reminded proponents of rewarding the ex-soldiers of the fact that they were on the colonial regime’s payroll as members of Koevoet and SWATF. Essentially, they were paid to kill innocent civilians and run over people’s mahangu fields with Casspirs.

Geingob reminded his detractors that those who fought for the country’s independence did so voluntarily, risking their lives and without receiving a cent in return for their efforts then. They are today being rewarded as war veterans with a token of appreciation for their patriotic role.

Koevoet/SWATF is to Namibia what Nazism is to Germany. Symbols from the Nazi-era, such as the swastika, or the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, are today illegal in Germany. But being the democracy that we are, people have no shame, let alone basic sensitivity or restraint, to prevent them from posturing as former members of these killer units, whose hands are still dripping with the blood of innocent civilians.

The mumbo jumbo of “we were forcefully conscripted” is utter bollocks, because there are many more Namibians who never joined the colonial armed forces out of principle. That is the most cowardly argument ever uttered in Namibia’s post-independence political history.

SONA is an important occasion, which to all intents and purposes should be fruitfully utilised to address genuine issues facing the nation. Frankly, such issues do not include demands to pay people who were not only opposed to the freedom of this country, but also sought through the barrel of the gun to ensure we remain a colony of foreign racists and looters.

It is perhaps the nature of our democracy that politicians can waffle nonsense willy-nilly, even when such waffling hurts the souls of those whose scars remain unhealed from the brutality of Koevoet and their murderous cousins, SWATF.

Calling for a ban on such discussions would be draconian, or even undemocratic, but we must demand common sense, especially from those vying to lead the nation. It is difficult to imagine how any politician who harbours such ambitions can possibly be entrusted with leading a nation – especially one with a history like ours.

These are unprovoked acts of rubbing the past in people’s faces and the consequences of such provocations could be catastrophic. If such consequences become a reality one day, this nation would place all the resulting effects squarely at the doorsteps of these politicians.

Let our elected representatives discuss the issue of land, genocide, housing prices and indeed all that matters to the people that have elected them into power.
They certainly didn’t queue for long hours at polling stations around the country to elect people, who at every chance they get to engage the president, waste that precious time on impossible demands, such as rewarding former members of the colonial armed forces.

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