Kaukungwa a Powerful Figure – Mbumba

SWAPO secretary general Nangolo Mbumba has described the late Simon Hafeni ‘Mzee’ Kaukungwa as a powerful and irreplaceable revolutionary and inspirational figure.

Mbumba said Kaukungwa played a major role in the liberation struggle, both inside and outside the country and is one of the leading figures in the history of the struggle. “We are mourning someone who is irreplaceable. I hope all those who knew him those he helped during the struggle, in and outside the country, and those who remember him, will join us in paying respects to this liberation icon,” Mbumba said.

Kaukungua was born on 6 October 1919 at Ohalushu in the Ohangwena region, and was one of the founding members of the Swapo Party and hero of the liberation struggle. He died at Ongwediva MediClinic on Monday at the age of 94.

Kaukungwa was a founding member of the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) in 1959 and then joined Swapo a year later, becoming one of the party’s main mobilisers in the North in the early years of the struggle.

He worked for the South African Railway Police in Port Elizabeth and later in Namibia. Like another liberation struggle veteran, Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Kaukungwa joined the Allied Forces during World War II and served in Egypt and East Africa.


liKaukungwa was trained in carpentry at Ongwediva Training College from 1939-40li
liServed in World War II from 1941 to 1945.li
liWorked as a contract worker from 1945 to 1946li
liWorked for the South African Railway Police in Port Elizabeth, from 1946 to 1952li
liWorked for the South African Railway Police CIDli
liFrom 1952 to 1958, he was a shop owner at Ohalushu in Ohangwena regionli
liIn February 1964, Kaukungwa led protest meetings at Ohangwena against South Africa’s Minister of Bantu Administration and Development, MC de Wet Nelli

Kaukungwa went into hiding to avoid arrest, before leaving the country with Hifikepunye Pohamba shortly afterwards, travelling through Botswana and Zambia and eventually ending at Swapo’s bases in Tanzania.

He trained Swapo’s first combatants in Tanzania in the late 1960s, before going for further military and political training in China in 1965. He became Chief Political Commissar for the South West Africa Liberation Army (the forerunner to Plan), from1965-70. When Swapo held its congress in 1969, Kaukungwa was 50 years old and already considered an elder in the movement hence was given the nickname ‘Mzee’, which means ‘elder’ in Swahili.

He obtained a degree in Administration, Business and Finance in East Germany in 1986, and served as the director general of Swapo centres in exile from 1986-89. He became the first secretary of the newly-formed Swapo Elders’ Council in 1970 which he led until 1992. Besides that, he was head of Swapo’s regional election directorate in Oshakati in 1989.

Mzee Kaukungwa served as Swapo coordinator for Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi from 1990-91. In 2002, he was re-elected to the Swapo Central Committee at the age of 82.

Source : The Namibian