Over the last couple of months I have observed annoying ramblings by men who served in apartheid military formations before independence. Koevoet/SWATF’s concerted effort of importuning president Geingob with demands for meetings targeted at seeking recognition as war veterans under the banner of some grouping known as Namvet is not only misdirected; it is brazenly provocative.
The clamour for recognition by Koevoet/SWATF led by one Jabulani, chairperson of Namvet, is nothing but an interplay of deception, opportunism driven by the nostalgia of “kop geld” and a choreographed display of histrionics aimed at ratcheting up public sympathy for the Koevoet/SWATF crowd who now feel they equally merit recognition as war veterans just as those who fought to liberate us from apartheid colonialism which the Koevoet/SWATF elements were fighting to keep in place in Namibia.
In principle, it would not be untoward for the president to convene with former Koevoet/SWATF members and to listen to whatever they want share with him as this is part of our republican rights. However, it would not be perspicacious to accede to their hypocritical demands for recognition since Koevoet/SWATF members were fighting against the very freedom fighters from whom they now seek recognition and thereby having contributed to the vexatious protraction of the liberation of Namibia. It logically follows that their outlandish demands are better directed to their former SADF masters in that country.
The veteran status, in terms of the Act, is accorded to brave Namibians who persistently and determinedly participated in the struggle for liberation. Koevoet/SWATF is trying to force a situation where there is an unfair blurring of the lines between the supreme sacrifices made by PLAN and other Namibian freedom fighters; and their mercenary, dogs-of-war exploits. How does one even start to align the names of brave PLAN combatants like Kakunya ka Holongo, Shingo ya Shingo, Nangolo do Mundonga, Shoonyeka sha Kalomho, Shiweda sha Kokole (all fallen in battle) to cite but a few, on the same wall of valour with those of Koevoets?
National reconciliation must not make such humiliating demands on us. It would, therefore, be an act of betrayal to the living freedom fighters who endured hardship as well as to many PLAN combatants who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom if the Swapo government under president Geingob, tampered with the Veterans Act in order to make provision for bestowing a veteran status to people who, as recent as April 1989 were fighting to roll back the gains of the liberation forces in their bid to continue shoring up the apartheid apparatus. For some bizarre reason, the Koevoet/SWATF members seem convinced that president Geingob will comply with their misplaced demands.
I commend our two former presidents for having been resolute in their stand on this Koevoet/SWATF issue as it would be wrong to caricature the honour of genuine freedom fighters by lumping them together with the Benedict Arnolds of that difficult time in our history for the mere objective of achieving popular acclaim and gaining political allegiance and support of these opportunistic groups.
The policy of national reconciliation (which was portentously initiated by the founding president in Washington on 4 May 1988, of all days!) should not be used to defile our true history so as to appease unpatriotic people who are already benefitting and reaping where they have once sowed havoc and destruction.
It is not enough for Koevoet/SWATF members to claim that they were forced into serving as many regarded serving in the apartheid forces as a normal form of employment and would not have hesitated to eliminate any freedom fighter including the president whom they now pester with strange meeting requests. Many of these unpatriotic elements ran off to SA with their mastsers on the eve of independence just for them to come back after being discarded in SA villages by their erstwhile SADF handlers.
The Koevoet/SWATF elements must ride out the rest their days into that inevitable twilight zone where they will receive normal old age pension like everyone else.