Fleermuys under fire for raising SWATF, Koevoet issue

WINDHOEK: Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) Member of Parliament (MP) Salmon Fleermuys came under attack on Tuesday for attempting to bring up discussions around former SWATF and Koevoet soldiers during the debate of the defence ministry’s budget.

Fleermuys said the South West African Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet – a major paramilitary organisation under South African-administered South West Africa – played a big part in the formation of the defence force, and should therefore not be discriminated against.

An upset Minister of Land Reform, Utoni Nujoma interjected before Fleermuys could complete his contribution.

“You must be prosecuted because you were condemned by the United Nations (UN) as a crime against humanity. You cannot come here and praise yourself,” Nujoma said.

DTA of Namibia MP Elma Dienda, who appeared to agree with Fleermuys, informed MP’s that the people who joined SWATF and Koevoet did not do so voluntarily but were forced to join.

The legislative house became even more chaotic after Dienda’s statement, to the point that Nujoma took the floor again to remind MPs that they took an oath to defend the Constitution and the laws of Namibia.

“We are not going to defend an evil apartheid system that maimed our people. Koevoet murderers, we are not going to defend them in this house because they are accessories to a crime against humanity. We will not tolerate that nonsense in this house. Not now or in the future,” an angry Nujoma charged.

Deputy Minister of Finance Natangwe Ithete also joined the discussion and said the truth should be spoken.

“Some of us have become orphans in this country because of these people who killed our parents. There is proof that these people killed thousands of people and delayed the independence of this country,” he noted.

Ithete said the issue should not be swept under the carpet as SWATF and Koevoet soldiers “made many Namibians poor”.

DTA of Namibia president McHenry Venaani said the issue is highly emotive, adding that the way WRP is probing the issue and the reaction of the ruling party will not solve the problem.

He then promised to further take up the discussion with the highest office in the country, that of the President, and revert back to the parliamentarians at a later stage.

“We are not going to solve the problem of SWATF on the floor of this house, so I will just urge members of the house to use the voice of reason and to calm ourselves down so that we discuss this issue at relevant platforms,” Venaani said.

The ruling party, Swapo-Party has on various occasions spoken against the SWATF and Koevoet matter, and recognising the former soldiers of the South African Defence Force auxiliary as war veterans in Namibia. According to the party’s official website, Former Head of State Hifikepunye Pohamba, supported by various government officials have said that, “the Policy of National Reconciliation adopted by the government at independence in 1990 should not be abused, but should rather be seen in the context of national healing.”