Retracing the Footsteps of a Liberation Struggle Icon – ‘Where Others Wavered, the Autobiography of Sam Nujoma’

The first historic Election-progress and anti -progress at that time

The election campaign was well underway and I launched the biggest political rally in Windhoek the country had ever seen, nine days after my return. I spoke for two and a half hours to more than 100 000 people in the now Windhoek Independence Staduim, with another 10 000 listening to the loudspeakers outside. As at other such “Star Rallies,” as we called them, to follow in Swakopmund, Oshakati, Katima Mulilo, Keetmanshoop and Gobabis, I called upon the audience first to stand for two minutes of silence in remembrance of the ten thousands of Namibians who had sacrificed their lives in the fight for freedom and independence. Each time, with varying words, I called on everyone to “work hard to heal the deep wounds which have been inflicted on our people in the past.” I also addressed the difficulties we were facing in the election- the violent behaviour of the DTA supporters backed clandestinely by the CCB and other South African military apparatus in the country, without any restraint by the South African police who, of course, were part of the conspiracy of South Africa to torpedo the implementation of the UN Resolution 435.

The South African Administrator-General, Mr Louis Pienaar, was in charge of registration of voters, and the UN Secretary General Representative was supposed only to certify the registration process was in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 435.

However, the Administrator-General conspired and registered a large number of UNITA supporters from Angola, along with whites and coloureds from South Africa. These were brought in by planes and buses hired by the apartheid South African Government, to swell the DTA vote.

We had been fully conscious of plans to prevent SWAPO from winning the election since June 1989 when The Namibian newspaper published the leaked minutes of the South West African Security Council meeting in Windhoek the previous September. Various tactics had been discussed by DTA leaders, civil services and military chiefs.

The minutes recorded the wish of the military chiefs that “the department heads and cabinet must work together as a team to urgent attention to an overall strategy.” The Chairman, Mr Dirk Mudge of the DTA, wished to have “all political parties to stand together in the fight against SWAPO.”

It was partly to reassure us, and response to fears express by UNTAG and monitoring groups from the Commonwealth and elsewhere, the Administrator -General had appointed a commission under Aocate (retired Judge Justice) Bryan O’Linn, to hear complaints of intimidation in the election. I met Mr Louis Pienaar myself for our first discussion on 24 September 1989, and was aware of him waiting to give me impression of being impartial in the election, and wanting to make concessions so that it would later be judge as “free and fair.”

Pienaar appeared to be a sophisticated man, more than some of his predecessors had been, but we knew enough about him to judge his real attitude and political motives. This was made clear by his action at the beginning of October 1989 in transferring the civil service pension fund from the local administration to a trustee who could move it to South Africa, with an estimate capital outflow of 1.2 billion rand. We protested against this, at the continuing election irregularities, and at the continuance of Koevoet, but received only empty reassurances.

I also had to deal with failure of authorities to rectify the many complaints from SWAPO supporters who had been targets of South African intimidatory tactics. There was in fact a very serious climate of violence surrounding our campaign and we had many complaints to make about attacks on our supporters and properties. The commission was unable to find the culprits for want of evidence, mainly due to the refusal of the police, still under their old command, to make arrests and to investigate the attacks.

An ugly incident occurred when the UNTAG office at Outjo was bombed by the CCB (Civil Co-operation Bureau), a hit squad of the South African Military Intelligence aimed at the elimination of political opponents. One local policeman was killed, and the culprits, all known white South Africans, manage to escape the country through the assistance of South Africans under-cover operators.

From the DTA -which the Pretoria racist regime, the ReaganBush administration and Thatcher’s Conservative British Government all expected to win – came threats that, after the election SWAPO members would be forced to swallow the SWAPO flags that were flying all over the country.

Shots were fired at our election headquarters building in Windhoek and mob violence was stirred up in Katutura (where there was still the so called ethnic zoning and consequently, blocs of party supporters who could be mobilised for such action). Justifiable complaints against SWAPO members and supporters were non-existent.

The UN Security Council was still watchful of the situation and determined that the process should not be wrecked at this final stage. At the end of October 1989 a resolution introduced by a group of seven members state of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) achieved an unanimous vote for the Security Council Resolution No.643 (October 31, 1981), which demanded full compliance with Resolution 435 (1978) 632 and 640 (1989) especially the “complete disbandment” of Koevoet, SWATF and “their command structure”, the repeal of all laws and regulations inhibiting free and fair election and that the local police (SWAPOL) collaborate with UNTAG police.

Source : New Era

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