Retired army general, Martin Shalli, says the recent suggestion by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) that he should head the AU Emergency Military Forces is not ‘only childish but meant to fight President (Hifikepunye) Pohamba’.
Shalli, who describes his relationship with the youth league as just like with any other wing within Swapo, said that he had not spoken to Elijah Ngurare since December 2012.
Without mincing his words, Shalli described the SPYL secretary for information and mobilisation, Job Amupanda as ‘an educated fool’ saying Amupanda is only ‘24 years old, far younger than my first born’ and that ‘he does not appreciate what his country has done for him’.
In a statement early this month, SPYL said they would engage the Government of Namibia and ‘subsequently writing to Madam Dhlamini-Zuma, the AU Chairperson, through the AU Peace and Security Council, to motivate the candidature of General Shalli to head the AU Emergency Military Forces’.
But last week Shalli dismissed this asking even how the SPYL can issue a statement ‘about me without consulting me’?
“Since December 2012, I have not spoken to Elijah Ngurare. I recently bumped into him at a wedding in Oshatayi.
“Namibia does not support the establishment of this force. Everyone knows President Pohamba issued a statement where we disapproved of such a force.
“How then can the youth league issue a statement about me without even consulting me? To say they will even write to Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma (AU Secretary General) is not only childish but also meant to fight President Pohamba.
“Even if this was good, I would not have taken up the offer. I cannot work outside Namibia. I love my country so much to leave it,” he told The Villager.
Shalli said when he approached Ngurare over the AU force issue; Ngurare told him that it was Amupanda who issued out the statement without his knowledge.
In a telephonic interview with The Villager a fortnight ago, Ngurare admitted that he had been ‘on the road recently’ and had missed some of the statements his wing issued out to the media.
Apart from the AU ‘job’, the SPYL also brought up Shalli’s name together with that of two other retired army generals Peter Nambundunga and Salomon Hawala last year as part of their proposed delegation to the Swapo Party Elective Congress.
The move caused some discomfort resulting in the SPYL withdrawing the names and issuing a statement saying, “Considering the texture and disposition of what went on behind the scenes, which we cannot share with the media and outsiders alike, SPYL understands, respects and accepts the decision of the three generals.”
A fortnight ago, Ngurare, told The Villager that Shalli like all Namibians of his generation have made a profound contribution to Namibia’s independence.
“He is a freedom fighter and a national leader. Therefore, mentioning his name with praise is not an affront to any office but stating the obvious. Jesus doesn’t get jealous when his disciples are praised,” Ngurare said.
But Shalli does not seem to enjoy such praise telling The Villager that some people want to split the Party.
“I do not want people to be loyal to me even. Does that mean that if that person forms a new party, you will follow him or her? I cannot start a new political project. It does not make sense. I invested too much in Swapo and those that have been with me know that. There are individuals trying to split us and these individuals are youngsters who don’t know where we are coming from.”
He said the SPYL should not make the mistake of believing that when he addresses them, he likes what they do.
“I was asked by the youth league to lecture them on their Olupale programme, which is part of the resolutions of the party.
“When I am addressing them, it does not mean that I am with them. It means I am just a cadre. But who is saying who in the SPYL? Is it the SPYL or its certain people, individuals? SPYL is a wing within the party. There is nothing wrong with it. It’s the people who are wrong.
“I can do anything for the Swapo Women’s League and even the Elders’ Council but if these people have hidden agendas, then I become a victim.
“Recently, I heard people asking the Minister of Defence (Nahas Angula) about the future of Shalli. Do I work for the Minister of Defence? I do not work for anybody but to try to bring up my name as if I am disgruntled is wrong. There are others who are disgruntled not me. Life in retirement has been great,” said Shalli.
He further said his relationship with President Pohamba is normal just like his relationship with the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma.
“He is my president and I continue to be an activist within the party. Of course, the slight difference is that Dr Nujoma was my Plan Commander during the struggle while I have a working relationship with President Pohamba which we have built over a period of time,” he explained.
Shalli said he knew from day one that he would not wear the uniform forever when he prepared himself for life outside the force.
“But removing the uniform does not make me less a soldier. Everyone knows I am warrior of freedom and independence. When you talk about Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, you will barely miss my name.
“I am small in stature but intimidating. I remain a general, a fighter and a warrior but forever I remain loyal to the party, and all who have been with me know that my loyalty is to Swapo not to a person.
“The youth of today do not know that. They think loyalty is worshipping a person. Swapo will not go. People will come and go. I hear young people say they will die for so and so. And some of them are well educated. These are educated fools.
“Amupanda is 24 years old, far younger than my first born. He does not appreciate what his country has done for him. He is an educated fool,” Shalli said.
He also castigated people who were not in the struggle but refer to General Hawala as the ‘Butcher of Lubango’.
“It’s mostly these youngsters trying to split us. Is it just a coincidence that my Olupale lecture was played on NBC for three consecutive days for one and a half hours? Was it meant to make me look like I am behind the youth league? Because a week later, that is when I heard them pushing my name for AU Armed Forces. I want the young people to know this, ‘do not forget about the freedom and independence.’”