Affirmative Repositioning leader Job Amupanda is prepared to sacrifice everything he has amassed, if it is what it takes to remove the veterinary cordon fence.
“I will never withdraw, even if I have to sell everything I have… in my lifetime, it will be removed… even if I am 90, I will be fighting for its removal… my children cannot suffer the same way,” Amupanda said yesterday, while briefing the media on the progress AR has made on the red line’s removal.
His comments come shortly after the 35-year-old asked High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele to protect him from costs should his bid to collapse the red line fail.
This is because the red line’s demise is in the best interest of the majority of Namibians, who currently pay exorbitant prices for meat products, south of the VCF, he reiterated.
Notoriously known as the ‘redline’, the VCF is a border between the north and south, which is used as an animal disease control mechanism.
Its critics, including Amupanda, see it as draconian, divisive, repugnant and that it serves colonial interests.
Amupanda then likened Namibians who have become accustomed to the red line to a spouse who has accepted an abusive partner.
“Namibians have been accepting abuse for 32 years of flag independence… our argument is ‘what is the fundamental responsibility of the State in the Republic of Namibia? What is the role of government?’”
“It is not envisaged in our constitution for the government to be discriminating against any of its children. You have a responsibility towards all,” he said.
Amupanda then took on the government, charging that it is hypocritical for it to stand in his way, when senior figures from the same government, including President Hage Geingob have placed it on record that the red line must be removed.
It is Amupanda’s view that those fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo want to drain him financially or otherwise force him into submission and give up the fight to see the red line removed.
In the case, Amupanda is up against land reform minister Calle Schlettwein, the government of the Republic of Namibia, attorney general Festus Mbandeka, an official from the directorate of veterinary services Hango Nambinga and the Meatboard of Namibia - who have enlisted instructed counsel in addition to two instructing firms.
The opponents, he said, have unlimited resources to finance a protracted legal fight, while he, on the other hand relies on pro bono services.
In Amupanda’s corner are lawyer Kadhila Amoomo and advocate Tinashe Chibwana.
The AR leader added government officials, cabinet members or anyone opposed to the removal of the red line must not be served meat originating from north of the VCF, as their argument for it to remain in place is primarily that animals in northern Namibia are contaminated by diseases like Foot and Mouth (FMD).
“It is shameful for a freedom fighter to be fighting to keep the red line in place,” Amupanda seemingly took a jibe at those with liberation struggle credentials.
Those against the red line’s removal argue that he has no prospect of success in his application after he failed to provide sufficient facts whereupon the court can determine whether the issues are of general public importance.
Amupanda, according to them, also failed to make out a case that the public interest requires that the constitutionality and removal of the VCF should be resolved; failed to provide any definitive amounts for what the costs could amount to and he has substantial direct and private interests in the outcome of this action. They argue he wants to use the red line as a trump card to political stardom.
This weekend, activists of the AR movement will descend on the coastal town of Walvis Bay, to adopt their constitution and formalise structures.
At least 400 delegates are expected to attend the assembly.
After the adoption and formalisation, AR will elect its top leaders between December and August 2023.
All indications are that the leftist movement is transforming itself into a fully-fledged political formation ahead of the 2024 general elections.
“We want to protect the content and character of the AR movement,” Amupanda justified.
The AR house has not been short of drama.
In recent times, AR’s top brass have engaged in public spats, with former spokesperson Simon Amunime and erstwhile head of elections Paulus Kathanga teaming up to pen a scathing letter in which they accused Amupanda of corruption and greed.
They also demanded for a rotation of AR’s Windhoek municipal councillors to allow unemployed activists a chance to make a living from the city’s lucrative perks.
The two were later removed from their positions. Kathanga has since left the movement.
AR’s co-founder, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma is also out of the picture.
Nauyoma, New Era understands, informed the movement in May about his unavailability to serve in any structure. He headed the political education and mass mobilisation department.
Put to him what AR has done to resolve the internal squabbles, Amupanda downplayed the fiasco, equating it to a “storm in a cup of tea”.
Since landing a seat at the city council, Amupanda has also been accused of taking an elitist posture.
The fact that the AR chief activist has never been arrested has also led to former allies questioning his credentials and commitment.
“We don’t argue that activists must be arrested in order to prove activism. That’s just foolishness of the highest order. What are you going to do when you are arrested? There is nothing strategic about getting arrested. But of course, when our activists are arrested, we have to give them moral support.
“And we don’t wish any activist to be arrested because that’s an instrument that the regime uses to suppress voices, to weaken and show that ‘if you stand up, this is what’s going to happen’,” Amupanda added.
Those who accuse him of maleficence should approach the antigraft commission, he said.