SWAKOPMUND - President Hage Geingob says the Namibian army is not a joke and should be left alone to concentrate on defending the country.
This follows after farmers of Omatjete, who clashed last week with soldiers after they (the farmers) invaded farm Etiro, failed to show up for a scheduled meeting on Friday in Swakopmund to iron out the issue.
“This is how countries go to war. All because of misunderstandings and miscommunication. Let us not provoke one another as these are serious matters,” stated the President who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Namibian Defence Force.
Farmers New Era spoke to on Friday said that they were expecting to meet the President on Friday in Omaruru so there was not enough time to travel to Swakopmund.
President Geingob on Friday, after learning that the farmers had failed to show up for the meeting, said it was disrespectful to call for a meeting and then not attend it.
“I also summoned the NDF on short notice and they are here as there are two sides to the story and I need to hear both sides,” Geingob said.
The issue of the invasion of the farm was brought up by the Zeraeua Traditional Authority leaders who also requested an audience with Geingob to discuss the severe drought farmers are facing and also assistance in terms of de-bushing areas and turning the bushes into fodder for animals.
Zeraeua Traditional Authority chairman Fabianus Uaseuapuani during the meeting showed the President images of the assaulted farmers that were taken after they were allegedly beaten by NDF members.
Uaseuapuani then told the President that the farmers did not invade the farm, however part of the farm’s fence was damaged resulting in some of their cattle entering the farm.
“They did not enter illegally. The cattle wandered off as there was an open space,” Uaseuapuani said during the meeting.
However, President Geingob said that’s not what he heard and hence he summoned both parties to hear both versions of the contentious event.
“Every story has two sides. I am here now. The army travelled all the way from Windhoek to be here, while they could be defending our country. Why did the farmers not come? They are the ones who requested an audience. It is very disrespectful to ask for a meeting and not show up,” Geingob said.
Acting chief of the defence force, Air Vice Marshall Martin Pinehas, told Geingob that the invasion of NDF farms has been a burning issue since claims of ancestral land started long ago. The chief of the defence force Lieutenant-General John Mutwa is reportedly unwell.
Pinehas, who acknowledged that the farm’s fence was broken, said that they in the past explained to farmers that the area was demarcated for use by the NDF and the people then agreed to vacate the farm.
He added that the latest invasion was politically motivated after calls to allow farmers to graze on government farms were made.
“Claims that they were just grazing in the corridor and that the cattle just wandered off into the farm is a lie. They were driving their cattle into the farm in the night,” Pinehas charged.
He also said that the farmers were not assaulted.
“In fact, they said they were assaulted but they don’t tell you what led to that. However, no one was assaulted maybe just pushed around because they did something,” Pinehas said.
He urged farmers not to lie to their leaders as this will only fuel hatred among Namibians and lead to civil war.
“We should be very careful as it will not be the military that will lead the country to civil war. The military should always be a last resort and remember that when civil war comes and blood is shed, and all this we have built is destroyed, then only Namibia will lose,” Pinehas said at the meeting.
Rebuking the farmers at the end of the meeting, Geingob said the army is not a joke and it should be left alone to concentrate on defending the country’s territorial integrity.
“This is how countries go to war. All because of misunderstandings and miscommunication. Let us not provoke one another as these are serious matters,” he cautioned.
Eveline de Klerk
2019-07-22 10:24:37 28 days ago