Government yesterday insisted Heroes’ Day commemoration, billed for Mariental in the Hardap region this weekend, has nothing to do with politicking.
This comes after Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi accused the Swapo-led government of using the Hardap commemoration to regain its foothold in the region.
LPM currently dominates the Hardap regional council with seven seats, while Swapo holds one seat. Swartbooi yesterday told journalists his party was planning a parallel event to commemorate the “real heroes of Namibia”.
“This year, Heroes’ Day commemoration is a Swapo rally. It lacks content that appeals to us. It is a rally in which Swapo wants to reclaim the southern vote – something they will never be able to do,” said Swartbooi.
“While they are trying to fight to get the southern vote, we will get the northern vote and get them out of power before they realise it,” said Swartbooi.
Information minister Peya Mushelenga said Heroes’ Day is a national day in which Namibians commemorate the heroic contribution and sacrifices made by Namibians to the cause of independence and nation-building.
Over the past years, Mushelenga said, celebrations and commemorations of two national days, namely Independence Day and Heroes’ Day, have been held in different regions.
“Therefore, the fact that Heroes’ Day is taking place in Hardap region this year has nothing to do with politicking. The battlefront of political parties is the electoral playing field. For now, as a nation, we give a well-deserved honour to our heroes,” he said.
He called on all patriotic and peace-loving Namibians to attend the commemoration, which will be addressed by President Hage Geingob in Mariental on Friday, and shun attempts to divide the Namibian nation.
Swartbooi said his party has asked its leadership to do what they have to do to celebrate real heroes, such as the late chief of the Kai-||Khaun Nama tribe Petrus Simon Kooper, whom, he said, stood firm in fighting what matters to the community until his last breath.
He said his party will also recognise the likes of former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who, according to him, contributed immensely to the country’s education system.
“Look at some of the ministers who were granted very important accolades. Ministers who have no idea what they are supposed to do in their portfolios are also regarded as heroes in this country. How sad we are, as Namibians, that Heroes’ Day becomes a political gimmick as Swapo tries to be relevant to Namibians. So, we are not going to be part of that nonsense; it is not a national event – it is a national disgrace.”
Meanwhile, executive director in the information ministry Audrin Mathe last week clashed with Hardap regional council chairperson Gerson Dausab after he questioned the council’s decision to restrain public servants from serving on committees tasked with coordinating Heroes’ Day commemoration.
This follows Dausab’s notification to acting Hardap chief regional officer Julian Engelbrecht that he had not received any communication regarding the planned Heroes’ Day commemoration.
In a letter, dated 15 August, Dausab told Engelbrecht no employees of the council should partake in organising the said event.
In a late-night media statement on Saturday, Mathe accused Dausab of sabotaging the event by allegedly restraining public servants from serving on committees tasked with coordinating the event at the regional level.
“It is with deep regret that the Hardap regional council has restrained public servants from serving on committees tasked with coordinating events at the regional level,” he wrote.
“In observing the hierarchy of norms, the directions of President Hage Geingob to host the Heroes’ Day commemoration in Mariental will be fully implemented with or without the Hardap regional council’s participation,” Mathe said.
He went on to say Namibia was founded on the idea of a unitary state, which is a constitutional requirement.
“The government will have zero visibility of any attempts to sabotage the commemoration,” he warned.
LPM deputy leader Henny Seibeb recently told New Era they are unhappy that secretary to Cabinet George Simataa first wrote to Hardap governor Salomon April to inform him about the region’s hosting of Heroes’ Day remembrance, conveniently “omitting” to inform Dausab.
“He omitted Dausab because his party is essentially LPM, contrary to President Geingob’s assertions that ‘nobody should be left out’ and ‘no exclusivity’ calls,” Seibeb said.
Simataa, in a letter dated 16 August, wrote to Dausab, apologising for the omission, saying he regrets the error of not having directly engaged him.