• May 25th, 2019
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Nation mourns ‘practicing socialist’ Iilonga

WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob has sent condolences to the family of former deputy minister Petrus Iilonga, who died in a Windhoek hospital on Tuesday night. He was 71.

The deceased has been described by fellow former trade unionist, Erongo regional governor Cleophas Mutjavikua, as a practicing socialist.

Iilonga served as a deputy minister in the ministries of labour, agriculture, defence and environment between 2000 and 2015.
He was also secretary general of the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) from 1988 to 2000.
During the liberation struggle he was a fighter for Swapo’s now defunct military wing Plan, and served on the Robben Island political prison in South Africa.

“I have learned with sadness about passing of Cde Peter Ilonga. Cde Ilonga led workers in their immense contribution to the liberation of Namibia,” Geingob said on twitter yesterday. 

He said Iilonga’s work as a member of the executive committee of the ruling party Swapo is widely appreciated. 
“Sympathies to family, comrades and friends. May his soul rest in peace,” he added.

Erongo governor and former trade unionist Cleophas Mutjavikua yesterday described Iilonga as a committed trade unionist, politician and person who taught a mission of no-return. 

“A mission of no-return directed the youth to go for the struggle, even if it means to die for the noble goal of freeing the Namibian people. Cde Iilonga hated any form of exploitation of man by man. He was a practicing socialist,” he said.
Iilonga  was born on 8 January 1947 in Etilyasa, Ongandjera, in the Omusati Region. He received military training in Tanzania and the Soviet Union from 1974 to 1976, after which he returned home to Namibia to fight in war of independence. 
He was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1978 to 1985.

After his release, Iilonga began mobilizing workers under the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), before serving as secretary general of Napwu from 1988 to 2000. 

He has been a member of the National Assembly since 1995. He left Napwu when former president Sam Nujoma appointed him as deputy minister of environment and tourism.

Even during his time in government, he was known to be a vocal critic of the government labour policy, including the perceived favouring of landowners over farm labourers.

In 1996, he received Namibia’s Ongulumbashe Medal for bravery and long service. 
In a 2008 belated Heroes Day speech, Iilonga criticised the newly-formed opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) for alleged tribalism. In the same speech in Keetmanshoop, he said that Swapo did not support opposition parties, Leela Mobile Online reported in 2013.

Staff Reporter
2018-12-13 09:35:14 5 months ago

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