Reflections as we commemorate Heroes Day
By Nkrumah Mushelenga
AS vanguard nationalists we treasure our liberation struggle legacy with dignity. Why? Because it remains the only genuine and internationally recognised legitimate struggle against colonial apartheid occupation and oppression.
Encouraged and legitimately so highly motivated by the words of the martyrs of the liberation struggle, words such as “the struggle will be longer and bitter but my people will emerge victorious” and that “a people united for a common purpose will always emerge victorious” the Namibian people under the banner of SWAPO, and with the support of international solidarity, vowed to shed sweat, tears, and blood as a prize to liberate the land, its people and God given natural resources from colonial occupation. Henceforth, the people’s liberation army of Namibia, PLAN the military wing of SWAPO was created. PLAN was the custodian of all SWAPO military engagement with colonial forces throughout the country.
We commend members of the PLAN for their nationalistic and indomitable stance to liberate Namibia.
The key question is what is the characteristic of colonialism? Under colonialism, citizens of a colony have no political and economic powers and no freedom nor justice for all. It is interesting to know that during the liberation struggle Namibia used to be called South West Africa Territory – why? Because a territory is considered by the League of Nations as an occupied territory and because the area of land and our territorial waters (sea), were considered to belong to the Republic of South Africa.
Who is a veteran and why is 26 of August 1966 a commemorative date in the history of an independent Namibia?
According to the Veterans Act No. 2, 2008, a veteran means any person who:
• Was a member of the liberation forces;
• Has consistently and persistently participated or engaged in any political, diplomatic or underground activity in furtherance of the liberation struggle;
• Owing to his or her participation in the liberation struggle was convicted, whether in Namibia or elsewhere, of any offence closely connected to the struggle and sentenced to imprisonment;
• but does not include persons who during the war deserted the liberation struggle unless that person/s subsequently rejoined the struggle waged in Namibia and other countries by the liberation forces against the colonial forces and which struggle resulted in the attainment of the independence of Namibia on 21 March 1990.
In line with its objective, Peter Nanyemba PLAN Combatant Veterans Trust was registered with the High Court of Namibia on 16/08/2018, thus 16/8/2020 marked two years of its formation.
It was established in terms of Article 125 (3) of the Namibian constitution and the Trust Monies Protection Act No. 34 of 1934. For transparency and accountability purposes, the Trust management is required among others to;
• Ensure that the original trust document is filed with the Master of the High Court;
• Open a trust account with a banking institution in the name of the trust in which all money received by them for the purposes of the trust, shall be deposited;
• Take possession of all title deeds and documents relating to the affairs of the trust for safekeeping;
• Ensure that the original trust document is filed with the High Court;
• Keep all trust property separate and register it in the name of the trust so that it can be identified as trust property;
• Refrain from holding or disposing of trust property for their personal benefit or for the benefit of their estates, and, generally to act in a prudent and responsible manner as can be expected from persons who are in charge of the affairs of another person.
Why a Plan Combatant’s Veterans Trust 30 years after independence?
Because there is substantive evidence that most -if not all former veterans are the most socially and economically marginalised since 21 March 1990 to date. The bottom line is that, bullet two takes 90 percent of the national cake while 10 percent is divided between veterans in bullets one and three.
You may not agree with our narratives, but the reality on the ground is that the majority of veterans and their dependents live under the shadow of vulnerability which if the effects associated with defenselessness, are not timely, effectively and efficiently addressed, the situation could become a human generational security threat to all.
Comrade President of the SWAPO Party and Government, we have a constitutional mandate to among others, unite the people of Namibia from all walks of life into a democratic, viable and peace-loving nation and indeed to defend and protect Namibia’s hard-won freedom and independence. Hence the establishment of the PLAN Combatant Veterans Trust. The Peter Nanyemba Trust is an engine of social economic hope and a vehicle destined to an inclusive development and shared prosperity for all. The geographic areas and natural resources of this country are bigger than its population. We just need a Namibian designed economic formula to arrive at our destiny of shared prosperity for all.
We applaud the party and its Government for promoting and consolidating peace and stability, for promoting freedom of opinion and paving developmental ground for short and long term projections to improve the living conditions of the veterans.
What is the historical value linking 26 August to PLAN’s liberation legacy?
It is a date where all Namibians from all walks of life;
• Witness through dreams and remember the first armed clash between the forces of liberation and those of colonialism at Ongulumbashe in Omusati Region;
• Witness through dreams and remember the maiming and killing of innocent women and children;
• Witness through dreams and remember the military aggression against neighbouring countries;
• Witness through dreams the battle of Cuito Cuana Vale;
• Witness through dreams the destruction of mahangu fields and shelters for women and children;
• Witness through dreams, and honour our fallen heroes and heroines and the sons and daughters of the soil;
• PLAN Combatants and their dependents reflect back and say “their sweat, tears and blood waters our freedom”;
• It is a day when the living vulnerable veterans and their dependents directly or indirectly communicate on issues of common interest.
We applaud SWAPO leadership for supporting veterans since the time of DBC, CIPE and the establishment of veteran’s affairs. We commend comrades Ruusa Malulu, Alexi Kamwi, Aino Ntinda, Nkrumah Mushelenga and others for establishing a veterans association.
One potential option is fish quotas; we just need a Namibian designed distribution module. Many of those on retirement have the technical capacity, ability, the will and commitment to fight and defeat poverty provided we get the tools and the land to deliver.
Therefore we wish to comradely advise as follows;
(1) Veteran’s affairs offices in the 14 regions should be headed by retired veterans on a three-year rotational period renewable for two years based on performance.
(2) Veterans’ board and appeal board members be appointed on three year contract renewable for two years based on the quantity and quality of work done.
(3) 14 retired veteran’s political appointees to represent veterans’ interests in National Assembly and National Council for three years on a rotational basis.
(4) Three quarter of Ambassadors and High Commissioners to be posted should be political appointees from the pool of retired veterans at the ranks of commissioners, generals and directors.
(4) Fish quotas for veterans’ cooperative projects per region and constituency.
Finally, all living and retired former PLAN combatants be decorated with our liberation struggle military ranks as key evidence that we are qualified military cadets.
Nkrumah Mushelenga is the Rt. Commissioner for Refugee, former NNLVA National Coordinator and Chairperson and Founder of Peter Nanyemba Veterans Trust.