In what can be interpreted as a veiled warning against elements calling for an inquest into past war-atrocities like the Lubango Dungeons, President Hage Geingob, in his Heroes Day commemoration speech cautioned against re-opening the wounds of the past.
He, especially, said that intent on opening the Pandora’s Box want to do this even though those who committed atrocities against liberation war icons and the generality of Namibians are still present today.
“Should we bring back those, SWATF Koevoet and police, the Robben Island Prison guards and try them for their inhumane treatment of the late Eliaser Tuhadeleni, Martin Kapewasha, the late Gerson Veii, Helao Shityuwete, the late Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, the late John Pandeni, Jerry Ekandjo, Petrus Iilonga, the late Immanuel Shifidi, Willem Biwa and many others?”
“Should we try them for having banished many of us for close to three decades out of our motherland? Should we try them for having subjected and relegated our fellow countrymen and women to inhumane treatment at home? We should not forget that Namibians were relegated to second-class treatment, denied education and basic freedoms. We still have in our midst some of those individuals who violated our rights,” he said.
Instead, the President rallied Namibians to look forward towards the path of peace, healing and national reconciliation and hold hands in the spirit of unity, liberty and justice for the sake of a better Namibia.
He also said war should never be an option to resolve deep-seated differences saying this can only be when diplomacy fails.
In light of that, the President touched on the emotive land issue which has seen tempers flaring across the political and tribal divide and indicated that the upcoming conference, scheduled from the 1st to the 5th of October this year, would be transparent and inclusive.
“During my first State of the Nation Address in 2015, I announced that a Second Land Conference would be organised.”
“It was done with the intention of creating a platform at which the willing-seller, willing-buyer principle, ancestral land claims for restitution, expropriation in public interest with just compensation, urban land reform and resettlement criteria, as well as the Veterinary Cordon Fence can be thoroughly interrogated and discussed,” he said.
The President also said as the country tries to deal with the remaining challenges, there is a need to approach the issues of poverty, landlessness and genocide with clear minds and with urgency.
“For as long as we have Namibians who are poor, who have no access to the means of production, who have not received satisfactory compensation for past atrocities committed against them, we will not be able to pay a fitting tribute to those who perished in defence of Namibia and its people.”
“I believe that we should have difficult conversations, as Namibians, with the aim of finding peaceful and sustainable solutions to the challenges of inequality, landlessness and outstanding pains of genocide. As we try to find solutions to what I have mentioned, we should not succumb to cynicism and behave as if the government is not doing anything. We are doing our best, and if we hold hands, we shall achieve our objectives. We should not succumb to those who seek to divide us at every turn and opportunity. They will fail,” he said.
On income disparities, high unemployment and the existence of pockets of extreme poverty, he said the government would pursue all possible means to deal with them, adding that genuinely honouring heroes and heroines means “committing the wealth of the country they bled and died for in their children’s hands”.
“For our liberty and freedom to become meaningful, we have to restore the dignity of the majority. Restoration can only come about through the correction of historical injustices. If we don’t correct the wrongs of the past through appropriate policies and actions, our peace will not be sustainable. I invite every one of you to be part of the journey. No one should feel left out,” said the President.