President Hage Geingob said the struggle for Namibia’s economic emancipation requires new heroes and heroines.
Speaking at the heroes day celebration in Mariental on Friday, Geingob said this is the time for such heroes to step forward to the challenge.
“Today, as we face economic challenges, let us not despair and give into a sense of hopelessness. More than ever, this is the time to redouble our efforts to tangibly tackle these challenges head-on until we are able to free our nation from the grip of economic oppression,” Geingob said.
He said just as the liberation struggle was long and bitter, the economic struggle will also be long and painful.
“Ultimately, we will determine whether we succeed or fail, and in honour of our fallen heroes, failure can never be an option,” Geingob said.
The President also said over the past several years, Namibia has faced independent intervening variables such as the global commodity crisis, currency fluctuations, and recurrent droughts that all played a role in placing our economy under enormous pressure.
Geingob bemoaned Covid-19, which he describes as an unwelcome and devastating guest.
“We have lost numerous lives, young and old, male and female. No one has been spared from the devastation, and as we stand here, I believe all of us know of at least one person who has died of Covid-19. Among those whom we have lost to the pandemic are many Veterans of the Liberation Struggle,” he said.
Geingob paid homage to healthcare workers, first responders, uniformed services and all Namibians who sacrificed in assisting their fellow compatriots during the darkest period of Covid-19.
According to Geingob, those who fought for the independence of Namibia have laid a solid foundation of unity and sacrifice.
The onus, he added, lies with Namibians to continue the march where they left off, fulfilling the ideals that spurred them to patriotic action.
“We must realise that only the Namibian people can usher in the dawn of economic liberation,” he said.
He urged the people to inculcate within the society the intrinsic forces that buttress unity and to purge the foreign superimposed influences that separate the people as the best way to honour the heroes.
“Due to the spilt blood, we can never return to tribal Bantustan ideologies. Due to the lost lives, we can never again allow the spectre of Apartheid to infiltrate our society. Due to the sacrifices, we must relentlessly guard our sovereignty and independence,” he added.
He urged the people to commit never to return to the mentality of homelands or Bantustans but to realise that they are all one people, as stated by Kwame Nkrumah.
The President said Namibians must appreciate that Namibia’s successful struggle for freedom was achieved by holding hands by like-minded patriots, who understood the value of independence and cherished it above everything else.
“They originated from all 14 regions of this country, crossing the barriers of the Apartheid imposed tribal Bantustans and uniting as one people against oppression,” he said.
According to Geingob, history and current international events have taught the people that national sovereignty is not guaranteed.
The Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA) president Ben Shikongo says leaders should be respected.
“Heroes day is a heroic and heroes’ day, the launch of our armed struggle in Namibia. Therefore the man and women, especially those that participated in the Omugulugwombashe battle, should be honoured and respected,” he says.
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula said health workers have more to celebrate Heroes Day in the fight against Covid-19 to reach the stage Namibia is at.
“We have gone through five waves of the pandemic, and it has been a war. The health care workers have been fighting for the war as soldiers, joined by others fighting against the pandemic, and through these efforts, we have brought the pandemic under control,” he says.
People’s democratic movement (PDM) parliamentarian Nico Smit says what is happening in Namibia does not signal a united nation as it should be.
“We should be a united nation without this tribal issue playing a very important role in our lives which is not healthy. Let us celebrate our public holiday and not divide our people,” he said.