By Asser Ntinda
CarolaEngelbrecht is peeping through our past history though key holes and she only
sees Mboroma in Zambia, and the "Lubango Dungeons" in Angola. Having peeped
through those narrow key holes, she has, stupid enough, concluded that this is all there is
to the history that has propelled SWAPO Party to being the ruling party that it is today.
She has now set up a trustee called the "Citizens for an Accountable and Transparent
Society. The Trustee is meant to "commemorate the Mboroma Massacre" in Zambia
and those "killed in "SWAPO's Lubango Dungeons in Angola." Carola is a former
leader of the Republican Party, RP, formed by Dirk Mudge during the apartheid regime
of South Africa's illegal occupation of Namibia. RP died a natural death when it broke
away from the DTA some years after independence.
It was Mudge's son, Henk Mudge, who revived it a few years ago. One of its leaders at
that time was Carola. But given the inherent contradictions within RP and the assortment
of leaders Henk put together to lead the party, it logically just fell apart. Its marriage
to the Rally for Democracy and Progress, RDP, could not even last for a month.
Today, it only exists on papers. Carola's unfocused stubbornness was instrumental in
RP's falling apart. Thus, the trustee is thus her last political straw she hangs on.
I do not know whether Carola is a historian or a politician. But given her rudimentary,
if not elementary, understanding of historical events and her narrow mindedness, I strongly
believe that she is neither of the two. Wisdom dictates that sometimes it is better to be
silent and thought stupid and ignorant than to speak and remove all doubts. Recognizing
the difference is the beginning of wisdom.
I know there is an assortment of uppity whites, neo-liberal academics and former
SWAPO Party defectors who are urging her on. But poor Carola is a useless pawn in a
political chessboard she neither understands nor controls. It is a blessing in disguise that
blacks, too, can create and control puppets. For, she is one.
For the record, Mboroma was a camp where rebels without a cause who tried to
destroy SWAPO from within were kept. SWAPO could, if it wanted, wipe all of them
out. But being humane that it was, it did not. It let them go. That is inspite of,not despite,
the treacherous acts they had committed against the Namibian revolution.
Their ring leader was Andreas Shipanga, who mortgaged his soul and conscience for
money and his insatiable lust for power. He easily became willing a stooge in South
Africa'spolitical chess board - Carola style par excellence. Having been SWAPO Secretary
for Information and Publicity for a couple of years, Shipanga had wide contacts
with the outside world.And he thought SWAPO was what it was because of him.Among
those contacts, unfortunately, was Pretoria, which conveniently used him to cause a
rebellion within to destroy SWAPO.
Lest Carola forgets, or perhaps she does not know, destroying SWAPO was Pretoria's
ultimate objective. Pretoria spent millions of money and human lives to achieve that
objective. The "Lubango Dungeon" refers to camps where spies and suspected spies
were kept, isolated from the rest of the freedom fighters for security reasons. There were
spies and suspected spies.
We must accept, as honestly and humanely possible, that there was war in this country.
Wars, even family ones, are won through intelligence gathering. Unless you know
your enemy very well, you are bound to lose any war. South Africa, as a government, was
at war with the people of Namibia under SWAPO. The apartheid regime committed
massive financial and human resources to defeating SWAPO. SWAPO, too, committed
the same resources to defeating the apartheid regime. And it did.
It would therefore be foolish and plainly naive to believe that South Africa never sent
agents to infiltrate SWAPO, agents which could provide it with intelligence information
from within. How else could it destroy SWAPO if it did not have credible information
from within? How else could it get such intelligence if it did not plant spies within the
very movement it was fiercely and viciously at war with? It is self-defeating to believe
that South Africa went into that war blindly without feeling the necessity of having
intelligence information on the movement it was at war with.
It would equally be naive to believe that SWAPO, too, never had its own special cadres
within the structures of the apartheid political, military and police establishment to defeat
the apartheid regime. Spies were there. We can only deny this painful reality for
political expediency or sinister motives. It would therefore be stupid to claim that SWAPO
only arrested innocent people and missed all the real South African spies.
True, not all the people who were arrested and isolated were spies. But people were not arrested and isolated at random. There might have been some credible snippets of
information or intelligence links that might have led to their being suspects. That, too,
was the main reason SWAPO never went on a killing spree, as other liberation movements
did. Equally, it would be foolish and impossible to expect any one of the real
former spies to publicly confess that they were indeed spies. The humiliation that comes
with such public confession is hugely costly. The plausible exit strategy is to deny it and
play victim of a smear campaign. That is where, unfortunately, Carola wants to step in
and exploit those episodes.
Wars are never executed to perfection. There might have been "excesses" along the
way. The SWAPO Party leadership, has more than once, admitted to this human error.
When Reverend SiegfriedGroth, published his book, "Breaking the Wall of Silence,"
in 1996, Founding President Sam Nujoma, then President of SWAPO Party and of
Namibia, advised Namibians to leave that painful chapter behind for the sake of national
He said that there might have been innocent people who might have been caught in
the crossfire, "and to them, we extend a hand of friendship in the name of national
reconciliation." Prime Minister, NahasAngula, told the National Assembly exactly the
same thing during the debate on national reconciliation in 2007. He said that the Lubango
issue represented the tragedy of the war, and SWAPO had to take that painful decision
to protect the revolution and isolate people who were suspected of being spies.
Carola can collect all the alleged former detainees and place them under one roof, but
she cannot be honest to her conscience by only asking SWAPO Party to account for its
part in that war, while at the same time exonerate the apartheid regime for the atrocities
it had committed against innocent people in this country.Yes, the apartheid regime
is no more there, she may argue, but some of the individuals who presided over it are
still around. Let us not whip up emotions for narrow and selfish political ends. Let
Namibia and its people be larger than our selfish political ambitions.
Carola's antics are deliberate seeds for civil strife and unrest. Being a political cheat
that she is, she is creating a fertile ground for her unrestrained political ambitions,
believing that former detainees would flock to her new-found political outing. But she
should be advised that it is one thing to start a war, and quite another to end it. And
again, recognizing the difference is the beginning of wisdom.
Let us accept the policy of National Reconciliation. The alternative is chaos and instability
- complete with reprisals and revenge. That option is ghastly to contemplate. If
peace and stability have become boring for Carola, she should just be bold enough and
say so. There are better places where we can keep her. For now, we are at peace with
ourselves. The path we have walked to independence has taught us many lessons. One
of those lessons is that peace does not just come at a cost, it is in itself priceless. Only
idiots temper with peace. There are many Carolas out there who would want to see
Namibia going up in flames, but we must be wise enough to ignore their provocations.
It will be very interesting to unmask the characters who are conducting the orchestra in
the background. Why, for interest's sake, has Carola not set up a trustee to commemorate
the Oshikuku and Cassinga massacres?
When all is said and done, let us hold higher the banner of liberty. For, Namibia we
love thee. That is why thousands of Namibians died for this country. Some met their
fate cruelly and were paraded like trophies. We want that chapter behind us, painful as
it is, in the name of National Reconciliation.