By: Justicia Shipena
Deputy prime minister and international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has apologised to citizens blocked from entering the Vineta stadium in Swakopmund for the Independence Day celebrations.
The public, which had gathered at the stadium’s gate early morning, were locked out as the Independence celebrations were arranged by invite-only.
According to her, the government was not in the position to have the stadium packed for this year’s celebration due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We sincerely apologise to our citizens, especially the residents of Swakopmund, that we are not in a position to fill the stadium as we always do,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
She added that as much as Namibia had done its best to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, its reality remains.
Hence, she said they have arranged for the 32nd Independence celebrations of Namibia to be live-streamed to mitigate the impact of Covid-19.
“Residents of Swakopmund and the rest, wherever they are, can follow these proceedings,” she said.
The citizens who have been queuing since 04h00 were allowed to join the jubilee moments before President Hage Geingob delivered his remarks.
“As much as we know that we are not yet off the hook, we must transcend strategically.”
Six days ago, Geingob, during the Covid-19 update at State House, had announced that public gatherings had been adjusted from 500 to 1 000 people. This includes weddings, church services and sporting events.
A Swakopmund resident who turned up at the stadium with his children was not allowed to enter because they had no invitation card.
“When we came here, they told us that you cannot enter inside if you don’t have an invitation card. Then I asked why are they turning us away if we didn’t know anything about the invitation. Then they told us we should go back home and watch through the TV and radio if we don’t have the invitation,” he stressed.
He further said children should be allowed to experience ninepence celebrations.
“Then they ask children about Independence at schools, but they are not allowing them to enter the stadium. Is this fair? Now we are standing outside. Why? We came here for the Independence celebration. One Namibia One nation, we must stand together and go inside.”
Disappointed by the turn of events, he said that when it’s time for citizens to vote, they do not act like this.
Deputy information minister Emma Theofelus said Swakopmund residents were later allowed to enter the “stadium to witness the proceedings.”
A Windhoek resident told The Villager that he wished to have gone to the coastal town to join the jubilee. He said it is unfair for the public to be cut off in the celebrations.
“It is not fair, and we are supposed to go and enjoy ourselves together there.”
Another said: “During the elections and star rallies, no one was invited, and the gathering was supposed to be 100 people, and Covid-19 was at its worst. Now we hear only those who are invited should enter the stadium. Cry Namibia.”
While some judge that if the event were held in northern Namibia, everyone would have been welcomed.