The SWATF and Koevoet Organization has accused government of marginalizing minority tribes in the country and questioned why government only wants to assist them now.
The Ministry of Defence, the National Central Intelligence (NCI) and the South African government are considering conducting a joint humanitarian relief effort from 2019 to address the plight of ex-Koevoet members.
The former Koevoet members are threatening to take legal action should the government proceed with the planned negotiations to address their plight with its South African counterparts.
In a brief interview with The Patriot this week, SWATF and Koevoet Organization chairman, Willem Beukes, said Namibia was better off in many respects during the colonial era than it is under the leadership of the “Swapo-led government”.
Beukes questioned the planned intervention efforts between Namibian and South African governments earmarked for 2019.
“For the 27 years of independence, where was Swapo? They (Swapo) called us names, distanced themselves from us and talked anything bad about us. So why now? Who is the Cabinet? Where are they coming from now to talk about our issues?” a clearly agitated Beukes asked.
According to Beukes, the government must “back off” from what he termed as their “fight”.
“The Swapo-led government must back off; this is our fight and not the fight of Swapo.
“They didn’t know us in this matter and when they (government) took this decision, they didn’t come to us to discuss that matter,” further noted Beukes.
Furthermore, Beukes claimed that government has always shunned the former Koevoet/SWATF members, as was clearly displayed by President Hage Geingob during his State of Nation Address (SONA) last year.
“He (Geingob) mentioned that we must leave him out (of SWATF/Koevoet talks), now who are they to say they will discuss our matter with the South African government in 2019?” Beukes further questioned.
Sharing similar sentiments with Beukes, SWATF and Koevoet Organization secretary, Sebulon Uiseb, claimed that they are the legitimate representative group for ex-SWATF and Koevoet members.
“We want to make it clear that it was this organization that wrote those letters to the UN (United Nations), so if anybody wants to know more they are free to come and discuss with us,” added Uiseb.
“During the time that South Africa was ruling this country, the infrastructure: schools, hospitals were there and nobody was suffering like today.
“But when the Swapo-led government took over, we are not only talking about tribalism, but government does not care about other tribes like the Damaras, Namas, Hereros, Basters, Tswanas,” charged Beukes.
According to Beukes, the government cares only for the “Ovambo” tribe who happen to be the majority group in Namibia.
“Instead of ‘One Namibia One Nation’, as the Swapo-led government is saying, they are still dividing us. And it is only a certain tribe which is benefitting out of this scenario, the Ovambo tribe. Ninety-five percent of the Ovambo own the fishing industry, mining industry and 5% is for the other tribes,” he claimed.
However, Beukes was quick to point out that not all the “Ovambo” people benefit from the government as some are also marginalized.
“Even in the Ovambo, there are some who are marginalized, if you go to certain places in Katutura, there is Havana, Okuryangava, DRC, 8de Laan, 7de Laan; there are a lot of kambashus (shacks).
“But during the colonial times, there were no things such as shacks, even the domestic workers had two-bedroomed houses that were built for them by the South African government,” Beukes claimed.
The Koevoet story
The group strongly denies fighting against the political independence of Namibia as the public is made to believe but instead their role was to protect the territory against potential intruders.
Beukes said they were mandated to protect the Namibian territory from the Swapo Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) and any other group(s) that posed threat to the sovereignty of the then South West Africa (present-day Namibia).
“We (SWATF) were the government and were tasked to protect our country against the next colonialism, which could come in and take over our country.
“What we understood is that these (PLAN fighters) were our brothers, and were doing the right thing to come and take over and make our country independent so we are going to share (resources) equally,” said Beukes.
However, the former SWATF/Koevoet members have often found themselves on opposing sides with the current government, which sees them as the brother “who joined the enemy”, according to Beukes.
“But now, what are we, we are enemies now? But we protected our country, our resources, our infrastructure, tarred roads,” Beukes charged.
In essence, the former SWATF/Koevoet Organisation claims that its members protected the resources of Namibia and everything within its borders against any intruder, irrespective of who they were.
In the same way, Beukes further said that they were brainwashed by the former South African administration that “Swapo” were a communist terror group that wanted to bring about communism in the country.
“What we were told is that this (PLAN) is terrorism that we are fighting against; they were terrorists.
“We were told that the terrorist (PLAN) will come and take your country, there were many things they told us; that they (PLAN) were communists,” Beukes noted.
Echoing the words of Beukes, SWATF and Koevoet Organization secretary, Sebulon Uiseb, said in order to understand the role SWATF played before independence, one has to understand the role of a “soldier”.
“To be a soldier, you have certain duties to fulfil and the main duty is to protect the boundaries of your country.
“Now, the question is: against whom should you protect your country? Who is the intruder? The intruder is anyone; that was our instruction.
Swapo were part of those intruders because they tried to come in the country armed, and my instruction was to stop anyone,” said Uiseb.
However, 27 years after independence the former Koevoet and SWATF members are “paying the price” for finding themselves on the wrong side during the fight for Namibia’s independence.
“The Swapo-led government did not only exclude ex-SWATF/Koevoet from the state funds and benefits as veterans but also our wives and children.
“They (government) discriminate against us, constitute hatred (sic)and put us almost 26 years under socio-economic sanction,” Beukes complained.