By: Hertha Ekandjo, Lina Amutenya
Landless people’s movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi has urged people to boycott the heroes’ day celebration, which is slated to take place in Mariental on Friday, 26 August, stating that it has long lost its true meaning.
“Where they go give you ‘aartappel slaai’ (potato salad), stinky fish in a foam cup, while they are going to hotels, with knives and forks, well dressed, one out smelling the other while celebrating themselves. We should be boycotting this event,” he emphasised.
Swartbooi added that those planning this celebration are the ones who own land and will be celebrating the day with those who are still landless in Mariental after 32 years of independence.
Swartbooi mentioned that it was with taxpayers’ money that such events are held, yet they are excluded.
“They go and celebrate Heroes’ Day with those who don’t have land in Mariental. In fact, they celebrate it upon those who don’t have land because they clearly can’t celebrate with them,” said Swartbooi.
According to the LPM leader, people who Swapo claim to be heroes are those whose children and people don’t have land, such as hero Hosea Kutako and many other late chiefs.
“In the quest of genocide reparations, these are the people who called tribalist and divisible, but they choose to go and celebrate upon them a Heroes Day that they cannot share collectively with compatriots,” he expressed.
Swartbooi further mentioned that if the heroes such as Hendrick Witbooi and Hosea Kutako were truly respected for their hardships, land would have been allocated.
“After 32 years, one can say that heroes day has lost its meaning and its relevance. It has become an alit gathering where these colleagues award themselves statuses and impose on ourselves that the so-called heroes that have freed the country are the only heroes that this country must celebrate,” he said.
Katrina Hanse-Himarwa Peace Pipe
Meanwhile, Swartbooi said that the party would recognise former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa as a hero.
“We’ll be celebrating other people who have distinguished themselves. We’ve also said that we’ll be recognising Katrina Hanse-Himarwa for the work she has done as an education minister, getting involved in empowering teachers who did not have the necessary qualifications; creating an in-service training programme that literally liberated thousands upon thousands of teachers who did not have access to quality training. Because of her policies and programmes, teachers were able to get into those programmes and were able to graduate, even as recently as last year, from the Unam Keetmashoop campus. When you speak of people that have a contribution, you don’t look at party polical affiliation.”
LPM leaders have been previously critical of Hanse-Himarwa following a 2019 viral clip in which she said, “an LPM councillor or mayor “can go to the minister of local government and will get an appointment and go see him, because he is a Namibian, but Swapo governs and we will not … make the opposition parties look good.”
26 August Good to Go
ICT ministry executive director Audrin Mathe has, however, said there is a team working and cooperating with the team that was appointed from Windhoek, stating that the commemorations in Marinatal will be fully implemented–with or without the participation of the Harpad regional council. He said the ministry can mobilise resources for the day through the government.
“We are on the ground and ready to go on the 26th, and most people are coming in today, working at full speed to make it a success. The ministry invites all residents of Hardap to come out in numbers to commemoration.”
This comes as Hardap Regional Council (HRC) chairperson Gerson Dausab allegedly restrained public servants from serving on committees tasked with coordinating Heroes’ Day.
The ministry, over the weekend, stated that it would not allow the event to be sabotaged.
Dausab told The Villager that he does not know why the word “sabotage” was because if a government official uses that word, it may put on alert all security services. He further said that the use of the word is uncalled for.
Dausab said that no one in his team wants to delay the event.
“From that angle, a man with that stature to just make irresponsible statements; maybe this version comes from the minister because he is not supposed to make such kinds of political statements. We, the council and management, have a meeting on the weight of the event, and no one in our teams is here to delay the event.”
Dausab said that when the central government is making a decision, it must acknowledge the leadership of other regions. He further stated that all he wanted was to be part and parcel of organising an event of this multitude.