Political Perspective

Political Perspective

INSTEAD of the polarisation that is taking place around the issue of the NSHR submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) around the detainee issue, why can’t we hear something directly from the President of Swapo, Sam Nujoma, himself? He has been bestowed with the official title of ‘father of the nation’, and perhaps this could be his biggest test.

Can he, both in this capacity and that of architect of the policy of reconciliation, bring the people who have been so deeply divided over this issue back together again? THERE’S an ominous silence from his side and there is no need for this to be the case. The matter is hardly sub judice and he is, after all, the only one who can really address the issue.Others may want to, but will not be encouraged to do so when he remains disapprovingly silent, and while the Swapo leadership may continue to deny what has been termed the ‘Nujoma fear factor’, they will not speak until told to do so.Which is probably what happened when President Hifikepunye Pohamba addressed the nation on this sensitive subject recently.I’d be most surprised if he offered to do this on his own accord; I’d be more inclined to believe he was coerced into it.And his words may have had some resonance, but nothing vaguely like Nujoma’s would if he chose to finally address this subject head-on, and for once and for all, for he’s the one everyone wants to hear from.He doesn’t need to necessarily do it for Phil ya Nangoloh’s sake, or because the NSHR has demanded it for that matter; but he should do it for the sake of our history which needs to be told, and if I’m not too far off he mark I’d venture to say that few books have been written by Swapo leaders because no one really knows how to tackle the detainee issue, and they can hardly skirt it completely if they’re to have any credibility as writers on the struggle years.So they rather don’t do it at all than have to avoid the issue, or worse, lie about it.The polarisation currently happening around the ICC submission is not taking us anywhere.There’s been the drawing of battle lines over this issue, with some bizarre aspects to the fight! Former members of the colonial regime taking sides with Nujoma and saying let’s forgive and forget, for example, and even local law firms pledging large amounts of money to the former President if the case goes ahead! As ‘father of the nation’ one would hope that Nujoma would be most concerned with what this issue is doing to a nation he helped bring into being.He would surely, and at the very least, want to contextualise the detainee issue and tell the Namibian people what really happened.It needn’t necessarily be a formal admission of guilt, which of course he would never consider, but a factual account of how it came about.Those taking his side are quick to point out the death and destruction wrought upon Namibians by the former apartheid regime, and demand accounting for these things too.And in a sense there has been some from this perspective.The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) did have before it many of the perpetrators of evil in Namibia as well as in South Africa.It was the same regime, after all, who committed atrocities both here and in our neighbour.And the past practices of the African National Congress (ANC) were dealt with to some extent as well.And it is too late for a truth and reconciliation commission here.But there has never been an ‘official version’ (for want of a better phrase) of the Swapo detainee saga and there should be.There will never be an official version unless Nujoma does it himself.It cannot be President Pohamba.He is not the right person and he was peripheral to the whole matter in any case and not directly involved as far as we know.Nujoma on the other hand, was and continues to be the Swapo President.He was also the founding President of Namibia.And perhaps now he can and should find it in his heart and mind to show his commitment to the policy of reconciliation; finally make peace with the past and put the detainee issue into its true perspective.And if he does so, perhaps those who were deeply affected can in turn then find it in their hearts and minds to forgive and forget and seek no further redress.The matter is hardly sub judice and he is, after all, the only one who can really address the issue.Others may want to, but will not be encouraged to do so when he remains disapprovingly silent, and while the Swapo leadership may continue to deny what has been termed the ‘Nujoma fear factor’, they will not speak until told to do so.Which is probably what happened when President Hifikepunye Pohamba addressed the nation on this sensitive subject recently.I’d be most surprised if he offered to do this on his own accord; I’d be more inclined to believe he was coerced into it.And his words may have had some resonance, but nothing vaguely like Nujoma’s would if he chose to finally address this subject head-on, and for once and for all, for he’s the one everyone wants to hear from.He doesn’t need to necessarily do it for Phil ya Nangoloh’s sake, or because the NSHR has demanded it for that matter; but he should do it for the sake of our history which needs to be told, and if I’m not too far off he mark I’d venture to say that few books have been written by Swapo leaders because no one really knows how to tackle the detainee issue, and they can hardly skirt it completely if they’re to have any credibility as writers on the struggle years.So they rather don’t do it at all than have to avoid the issue, or worse, lie about it.The polarisation currently happening around the ICC submission is not taking us anywhere.There’s been the drawing of battle lines over this issue, with some bizarre aspects to the fight! Former members of the colonial regime taking sides with Nujoma and saying let’s forgive and forget, for example, and even local law firms pledging large amounts of money to the former President if the case goes ahead! As ‘father of the nation’ one would hope that Nujoma would be most concerned with what this issue is doing to a nation he helped bring into being.He would surely, and at the very least, want to contextualise the detainee issue and tell the Namibian people what really happened.It needn’t necessarily be a formal admission of guilt, which of course he would never consider, but a factual account of how it came about.Those taking his side are quick to point out the death and destruction wrought upon Namibians by the former apartheid regime, and demand accounting for these things too.And in a sense there has been some from this perspective.The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) did have before it many of the perpetrators of evil in Namibia as well as in South Africa.It was the same regime, after all, who committed atrocities both here and in our neighbour.And the past practices of the African National Congress (ANC) were dealt with to some extent as well.And it is too late for a truth and reconciliation commission here.But there has never been an ‘official version’ (for want of a better phrase) of the Swapo detainee saga and there should be.There will never be an official version unless Nujoma does it himself.It cannot be President Pohamba.He is not the right person and he was peripheral to the whole matter in any case and not directly involved as far as we know.Nujoma on the other hand, was and continues to be the Swapo President.He was also the founding President of Namibia.And perhaps now he can and should find it in his heart and mind to show his commitment to the policy of reconciliation; finally make peace with the past and put the detainee issue into its true perspective.And if he does so, perhaps those who were deeply affected can in turn then find it in their hearts and minds to forgive and forget and seek no further redress.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News