Submitted by NamibianSun101 on Sun, 2013-11-24 02:00
Former South African President FW de Klerk has advised former South West African Territorial Force (SWAFT) and Koevoet members to approach the African Union (AU) with their grievances.
This was said by his spokesperson, Dave Steward, in response to a letter sent by the Namibian Communist Party (CP) on behalf of former SWATF/Koevoet soldiers in the country. In the five-page open letter CP leader Attie Beukes draws De Klerk’s attention to issues including the alleged failure of the Swapo-led government to incorporate these former soldiers into the defence force, police, intelligence service, City Police or prison services.
Steward said: “De Klerk no longer has any locus standi in this matter and is unfortunately not in a position to intervene.” Steward said De Klerk thought by now the policy of national reconciliation would have been in full swing in Namibia. “It was hoped that Namibia’s independence process would be followed by genuine efforts at national reconciliation and integration of all armed forces into a new national system – as happened in South Africa,” said Steward.
The letter also refers to the Namibian government’s refusal to grant these ex-soldiers war veteran status, with the benefits that entails. It asks what happened to the N$36 million South Africa had handed over to Swapo shortly after independence, which was meant to be distributed to the former fighters as pensions. “Our advice to those who feel that they have been treated unfairly is to make use of all the mechanisms available under the Namibian constitution – including your courts,” Steward said. He added that the party should take up the matter in the Namibian parliament.
The CP is the only party that has openly sided with former SWATF/Koevoet soldiers, and it is not represented in Parliament. “They can also approach the mechanisms established by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community,” Steward said. According to him, in the case of the “disputed N$36 million” should be taken up with the government of President Jacob Zuma. “[They can] make use of the media in Namibia and South Africa to air your grievances,” he further advised. In an earlier interview with Namibian Sun, Swapo Secretary-General Nangolo Mbumba said former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers should pay the price for siding with the former colonial masters and killing their own people.
“They fought against their own people for a foreign army under the command of the enemy,” said Mbumba at the time. The South West African Territory Force (SWATF) consisted of Namibian conscripts, volunteers and career soldiers who fought alongside the (SADF) against Swapo. Koevoet was the South West African Police Counter-Insurgency Unit and fought fiercely against Swapo combatants during apartheid.
WINDHOEK ELVIS MURARANGANDA