Mag Represents All Minority Groups, Not Only Afrikaners [interview]

The Monitor Action Group (MAG) has not been very visible to the electorate in its campaigns for the 2014 presidential and National Assembly elections slated for Friday November 28. MAG chairperson Gernot Schaaf gave insight to New Era journalist, Alvine Kapitako, on the party in general, it’s campaign strategies as well as its expectations of the elections.

Monitor Action Group has in the past been unequivocal in its quest to preserve Afrikaner traditions, the language and culture, as well as the Afrikaner people. What is MAG’s manifesto for the 2014 elections?

This is your assumption and it is not quite correct. But I accept that every person outside of the membership or support base of MAG is free to have an own opinion or interpretation, this is a free country after all. It is with all due respect that I would challenge anyone to point out where in MAG’s ‘Programme of Principles’ (MAG’s constitution) this is ever stated. You will not even find this in our 2014 manifesto. It is a well known fact that MAG has always taken an “unequivocal stance” in favour of minority rights considering people, which is a universally United Nations Organisation (UNO)-convention supported principle. And all UNO conventions were signed by Namibia’s President after independence. In this process, it is true the Afrikaners (as you choose to put it) are a section, or group, but then there are many other minority groups in Namibia who also resort in this category. I surely trust this is very clear. MAG does not, unlikely as most present political parties, as in the past, make promises.

What key areas of development would MAG focus on if – let us say – it won a seat in the National Assembly?

I refer you to our manifesto of 2014. Our stance comes down to the fact that millions of millions of Namibian dollars are being poured into exorbitant salaries of a top-heavy ministry officialdomcivil service (State and parastatals), or corrupted by privileged individuals, or spent on single projects which do not address poverty, unemployment, housing and lack of effective health and education needs, which should be halted and scrapped for the next five years if not longer.

These millions of Namibian dollars could go very far in creating especially employment, and better housing and amenities for the needy. MAG believes the culture of responsible maintenance has been and is seriously lacking. In short, the parliament and ministerial structure in use after independence was already exorbitant before the recent new legislation for enlarging parliament (together with all the resultant expenditure that will further emanate), was already ludicrous for a country with our population. It takes no prophet to know about our past expenditures.

For example, state buildings, and eventually the envisaged N$600 million parliamentary building projection now will come close to thrice this projected cost. Finally, but significantly, I am not aware if even a ‘rich’ country like the USA amongst others, has ever seen to it that the taxpayer pays for the erection of the residence of any retiring president or leader such as being done by Namibia, while the people especially those not carrying a Swapo membership card are jobless, hungry, without a dwelling and basic amenities. Also, the aged have to make do with crumbs after a productive life, throughout which they have paid their taxes to the state.

December last year the then MAG secretary general Jurie Viljoen resigned, citing disunity in the party …

First, let me put the record right, MAG never had a ‘secretary general’ in its structure. This is totally incorrect. Mr Viljoen was MAG’s MP 2004 to 2009, and later, following the retirement of Mr Pretorius from his position as chairman of MAG, he was nominated by Mr Pretorius as acting secretary until the forthcoming AGM of MAG, which had been 4th Nov. 2013. About the ‘cited disunity’, Madam, wherever this originated from is a mystery to me. This ‘source’ will know what is the truth and will have to make this out with Mr Viljoen. I can put it on record that I have Mr Viljoen’s e-mail, underwritten by him and originated from his e-mail address. Mr Viljoen’s first letter resigning from his post in December 2013 as elected secretary states “I remain loyal to the principles and ideals of MAG. Me and my family will vote for MAG and encourage our friends and supporters to do the same in the forthcoming election.” He was, in full bona fide, retained as member of MAG’s Exco, until he resigned from the Exco in writing on July 13 this year, still on health grounds, that he “cannot cope with emotional pressure situations as in an election year” and would rather make way for a suitable person. This is the fact of Jurie Viljoen on record. The only other ‘disunity’ about which I can remotely with hesitance reflect on is the fact that the membership of MAG, at a special members’ meeting on July, 14 2014 brought only five votes against partaking in this election. The reasons given were totally because these members named the lack of funding and other logistics as reason. This is the only factual ‘disunity’ I am aware of. It is nothing on the scale, or of the kind, we presently read about daily in all the newspapers in so far as for instance Swapo has to cope with for many recent months already. So MAG has no ‘hurdle’.

Is the party confident it would return to its pre-2009 elections, when MAG always had a seat in the National Assembly representing the Afrikaner people?

MAG has no prophetic qualities to say what only the polls can display. But we have unbounded faith in the Holy Trinity, whom we profess as the Creator of the total universe and who holds the destiny of countries, nations and peoples in his hands. We can only rely on His grace. We believe firmly in the sense of Judges, where Gideon and his small troop of 300 volunteers, totally unarmed, triumphantly took on the armies of the ‘Midianites, Amelekites and people of the east’ in an encircling manoeuvre, as stated in Judges 7:22 the words ‘God willed it’, and what was humanly impossible came to pass as in Judges 8:10. And I re-iterate MAG explicitly does not represent only ‘the Afrikaner people’ but all minority groups. Take note that our number 1 candidate is a German speaking citizen who so firmly believes in the principles of MAG that he is an example of someone who is open-minded and has no qualms in this respect. He has a wide circle of Afrikaans-speaking friends in the ‘Boere’, Baster, Coloured, Damara and Herero communities in the northern districts of Namibia especially, and also central (Windhoek) Namibia, where he is well known. He is a dependable example of a ‘born native’ of Namibia.

In his resignation, Mr Viljoen also spoke of (according to the media report then) the need for the party to find ‘a g man or woman with the idea of solidarity’ to lead the party. Has MAG found that person in the candidate MAG fielded for these elections?

Firstly, are all media reports 100 percent trustworthy? Now my answer to your question -this can only be determined by the amount of votes MAG would draw, which will be solely on its cause not due to a person. It may take yet another election to really develop and will Swapo then still be a factor? The Bible teaches us all ‘Do not trust on princes.’ So, let’s wait for this election as an indication. MAG is not centered on attaining masses of votes, but MAG is an idea-driven, opinion-based organisation, campaigning for the basic rights precious to all minority groups on the Christian-based principle of ‘do unto others as you want to be done unto yourself’ and also in the course of the principle ‘freedom of association’ without any dominance by any other.

Who is the candidate, can you please introduce the candidate to the public?

The candidate is Mr Bernhard von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. He is a 63-year-old retired senior Namibian Embassy official, qualified with two university degrees in political science and political administration, who also served two terms on the Windhoek City Council as councillor, and as public relations officer for Agra and he is thus well known in farming circles throughout Namibia, is our candidate number 1. Should MAG be blessed with obtaining more seats in parliament, there are still other firm and dependable options open in the ranks of the younger generation. Despite not having any ‘Youth League.’

Is it not time that MAG broadened its focus, beyond the preservation of the Afrikaner culture, traditions and language, to tackle issues that appeal to the broader Namibian people?

It is clear that many people only are interested in what MAG has to say at election time. Mr Koos Pretorius has been interviewed in the previous elections by New Era especially when he also stood for president in 2004. A very true report on his stance portraying MAG’s cause was then published in New Era. Reading that then, is no different to what our stance has been about the ‘Programme of Principles of MAG’ since founding the party in 1991. We dearly respect any other person’s culture, traditions and preferences, and will support anyone who also respects ours. We have never indicated that what appeals to the broader Namibian people is of no concern to MAG. God willing, and if he allows us to gain a seat in parliament, we will take up where Mr Pretorius and Viljoen left off and we trust that the sincerity of MAG’s intentions from then on will not be doubted.

Is MAG not afraid it would continue experiencing the erosion of its base support, as experienced in the 2009 National Assembly elections when it failed to get enough votes for a seat?

This was mainly due to the apathy of the white population of Namibia who were and still are in quite a way really disillusioned about the totally discriminatory dominance of the ruling Swapo party all along. Now, as is becoming more general, the same situation is becoming a rebounding embarrassment to Swapo too, if the voter apathy and low turnout of voters in these two very recent by-elections portray. One of the definite apathy factors among the white population is that the playing field is not levelled at all. So what does it help to partake in an election? This is the general sentiment. When Cabinet initially decided that (at that time) 0.2 percent of the annual budget would be allocated to the development of democracy by assisting all registered parties to promote democracy in the multi-party state in Namibia, and then, as now still, only made this allocation applicable to parties with parliamentary presence. Then MAG had a more than three decades-long struggle approaching the utmost ministerial authority, and even the office of the Ombudsman, with written submissions that the formula for the essence of ‘developing democracy’ can only be fair and telling by especially assisting the smaller parties to develop. The formula is very unfair as it is now only for the parties in parliament and basically a fair percentage, say 30 percent or so, should initially be evenly distributed between all parties with a proven substantive support base of ‘qualification’ by valid members. Then the next 70 percent should be proportionally divided on the basis of votes gained. As it now stands, the ruling party with its dominance takes 34 of the cake and the small slice with crumbs goes to only those parties in parliament. The rest do not count at all. In 2009, in this way MAG came second to Swanu with about only 277 votes, and was since then left out of any equation, losing the annual ‘state subsidy’ of then more or less N$350 000 (per annum) whereas Swapo got more than N$11 million per annum. So presently MAG has a real financial constraint in this election. That is why we have no posters displayed anywhere. We also cannot pay organisers or recruit personnel to drive throughout the country, recruiting members. But, we have faith that, as stated in Matthew 25 verse 14 to 30, it is our destiny to make use of the ‘talents’ we are entrusted with. To work diligently to earn the same number of talents in addition to our needs. MAG does not want to be in the position of the one servant who rather buried his one ‘talent’ than to industriously bargain with it to gain another additional one and eventually he was cast into oblivion ‘in the outer darkness where there was gnashing of teeth’.

We, as journalists, have not received any invitation to a MAG meeting or rally. How is MAG conducting its electioneering campaign?

Rallies are not part of the traditional repertoire of practising political campaigns by MAG or our supporters. We concentrate on other more direct means. This is a tendency developed by the original DTA in the middle ’70s with the questionable ‘Pap-en-wors’ campaigning and giving out free T-shirts and caps. To MAG this is not-so-subtle bribery. MAG has, for this election, resorted to action in the newspapers, by e-mail, text messages (on cellphones), ‘Facebook’ and WhatsApp, as well as personal contact.

Source : New Era