Former Koevoet and South-West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) members say they are in the dark regarding plans by the Namibian and South African governments to conduct a joint humanitarian relief programme as from 2019.
Government spokesperson Tjekero Tweya recently announced that the two countries will join forces to “address” the matter of ex-Koevoet soldiers.
“The Ministry of Defence to consider conducting a joint humanitarian relief exercise between the two countries from 2019, and together with the National Central Intelligence (NCI) to cooperate to address the matter of ex (SWATF) Koevoet members,” said Tweya.
When asked to clarify what the so-called ‘humanitarian reliefs’ entails, Tweya could not explicitly tell those in attendance what it would encompass.
“We recognise that there were people who found themselves on the wrong side of the fight for Independence. Now they are too old and someone must look after them.” said Tweya.
“Some of these people are over 80 years old, and when you are at that age you must be looked after. If your previous master does not look after you, somebody must look after you,” he said.
SWATF (South-West Africa Territorial Force) 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.
Tweya said it was impossible to grant the SWATF members veteran status, according to their demands, as the country laws only recognise individuals who fought for the liberation of Namibia and not vice-versa.
“The law is to recognize those who fought and sacrificed their lives against the apartheid regime to liberate the country and there were Namibians who were opposing the liberation.
“Because that (South Africa) country was fighting against the freedom and those Namibians found themselves on the wrong side.” he said.
However, the plight of former Koevoet members cannot be ignored despite the fact that they found themselves on the “wrong side” during the struggle for Namibia’s independence, according to Tweya.
When The Patriot approached Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo for comment on what could be expected in the humanitarian relief exercise between Namibian government and its South African counterpart, his response was : “It has not reached my ministry, we (Ministry of Defence) are not aware of that,” said Ya Ndakolo.
On the contrary, leader and founder of the Namibia War Veterans Trust (Namvet), Jabulani Ndeunyema, is adamant that they (ex-Koevoet) will be honoured as “veterans” in the near future.
“We are veterans of SWATF and our demand will continue and I know that we will get it (veteran status), it’s only a matter of time,” said Ndeunyema.
When queried on the bi-national engagements that are expected to take place between the two governments in 2019 to address the Koevoet matter, Ndeunyema could “comment” as he was not aware of such a happening.
“I don’t comment on thing (s) that we are not aware of, we were not there (media briefing) therefore no comment,” said Ndeunyema.
Ndeunyema remains positive because Geingob is the only head of state in Namibia’s history that has met former Koevoet members to listen to their cries.
“Sam Nujoma once said he will chase SWATF out of the country. Pohamba told the Koevoet to go back in the bushes, but Hage has decided to include SWATF and Koevoet in his house,” stressed Ndeunyema.
Furthermore, Ndeunyema went on to further accuse some members up in the Swapo hierarchy of “gossiping” about Geingob.
“Geingob is surrounded by enemies, there are people gossiping about Hage Geingob but we the (former) SWATF members are saying that if Namibians can give him a chance, Hage will take Namibia higher.
“They are accusing Geingob of drying up the Namibian coffers (economic meltdown), which is not true. Hage inherited an administration that was already bankrupt,” alleged Ndeunyema.
In addition, Namvet is expected to meet Geingob in the coming weeks at the back a meeting in 2017, which Ndeunyema described as “beautiful”.
“For the first time we had a very beautiful meeting with the President, the outcome of the meeting was beautiful, SWATF and Koevoet are in Hage’s house, the future is bright,” added Ndeunyema.
Moreover, some ex-Koevoet soldiers excluded in President Geingob’s ‘Namibian House’, a narrative that promotes inclusivity and oneness.
Speaking to The Patriot this week, former Koevoet/SWATF member Komisara Tjiposa attributed their deplorable living conditions at the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA) King’s Palace in Katutura to the Namibian government.
“We do not live well under the Namibian government, it is clearly evident that we’ve been abandoned.”
“We sleep at an unsafe place, we are hungry, we are sick and the place is unhygienic and we don’t have proper sanitation facilities,” bemoaned Tjiposa.
Among the reasons Tjiposa and over 200 others who fled their nomadic agricultural lives and homes back in the Kunene region, are lack of water, toilet, bathrooms and electricity.
According to Tjiposa, safety is one of their major concern as some of the group members live with minors.
“It is entirely unsafe, we are just fortunate that nothing has happened to any of us at the moment, if the government cannot protect us, who will?” asked Tjiposa.