Ex-SWATF and Koevoet members urged to back DTA

OSHAKATI: Ex-soldiers who fought for the colonial government under the South West African Territory Force (SWATF) and Koevoet on Saturday gathered at Oshakati where they agreed to throw their support behind the DTA of Namibia.

The ex-colonial soldiers, commonly referred to as ‘Omakakunya’, were joined by their spouses, children and sympathisers during the meeting that was held at the Uupindi informal settlement community centre.

‘Omakakunya’ is a derogatory Oshiwambo word said to mean scavengers or bloodsuckers, and although it has a negative connotation, was used liberally during the meeting.

The ex-SWATF and Koevoet members gathered under the auspices of the Namibia War Veterans’ Trust which is headed by Jabulani Ndeunyema.

They argued that they are suffering “economic sanctions” at the hands of the Swapo-Party because of the ruling party’s refusal to recognise them as war veterans like their counterparts from the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).

“We are considered by leaders of this country as unqualified to be beneficiaries of the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs that is funded by taxpayers, including Omakakunya who are employed and earn a decent monthly income,” Ndeunyema told those who attended the meeting.

He said apart from the Veterans’ Affairs Ministry that refuses to recognise the ex-SWATF and Koevoet members as war veterans, State House has also refused to receive the petition they wanted to hand over to President Hifikepunye Pohamba recently.

“Why should we keep on voting for people who disregard us?” Ndeunyema asked his fellow ex-soldiers.

He added that the leadership of the Namibia War Veterans’ Trust is disappointed by a statement made by a leader in the ruling party that ‘Omakakunya’ will only be recognised to benefit from the veterans’ fund “over his dead body”.

This, Ndeunyema said, is discrimination against fellow Namibians. Other political parties, especially the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), were also accused of being non-sympathetic to the ex-colonial soldiers.

According to Ndeunyema, the RDP in its constitution considered no former members of SWATF and Koevoet in its war veterans’ benefits provision.

“We must form a united block of Omakakunya, our wives, children and sympathisers to rally behind the youthful president of the DTA, McHenry Venaani, during the elections this year and in future,” he urged.

He noted that Venaani was the only parliamentarian who has even shown sympathy and tried to defend the interests of the ex-colonial soldiers during the debate on the War Veterans’ Bill in the National Assembly amidst continuous interjection by Swapo-Party parliamentarians.

“It is Venaani who ensured that today we have equipped offices in Windhoek. Why can’t we vote for the DTA and Venaani who cares?” Ndeunyema stated.

He then pledged to stand firm for the interests of all ‘Omakakunya’ and their relatives. Ndeunyema has already addressed ex-colonial soldiers at Ondangwa and Ohangwena. He will hold similar events at Outapi and Opuwo this week.