Retired former chief of the Namibian Defence Force, Martin Shalli has been widely condemned by political parties
over remarks attributed to him at a mini Swapo rally at the weekend.
At the rally, held at Five Rand location in Okahandja, Shalli made remarks saying those who leave the ruling Swapo party to form other parties should be killed.
Shalli’s remarks sparked an outcry among the opposition parties and pressure groups including the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement.
At the rally, Shalli made references to politicians who were once entrusted with responsibilities in Swapo and then leave the former liberation movement to form their political parties.
PDM has laid charges against Shalli over his inflammatory comment yesterday at the Windhoek police station.
It was during that time that Shalli through an interpreter questioned the motives of those individuals who leave the party to form their parties or political associations.
“What did those people see in Swapo for them to go start their own political parties? People who speak like Shalli is talking today here but will start their own political parties tomorrow should be killed. They shouldn’t be shot…their throats should be slit,” Shalli remarked to the applause of those in attendance.
The former military commander yesterday issued a statement in which he defended his remarks, saying the purpose of the rally was “to canvass votes for my party” and to encourage his fellow party members not to be intimidated by the opposition parties or individuals with no clear programmes and principles except for discrediting the Swapo party.
“In my statement, I used a figurative speech in terms of politically defeating our political opponents at the ballot box by ‘cutting off their throats’, among others.
This figurative speech should be seen in the context of a democratic political campaign in which opponents are fighting for votes. Cutting off the head of the snake or cutting an enemy’s throat are proverbial expressions used in our African languages all the time,” he explained.
Shalli said the same as saying somebody is a “zombie” does not mean that they had physically died and come back as a “living dead”.
Political opportunists want to use the symbolic language he used to make it appear like it was some form of declaration of physical harm to fellow Namibians who are political opponents, he said.
As a decorate war of liberation hero, Shalli stressed he will never advocate for harm of anyone, hence his remarks in Okahandja should be seen in its proper context.
“Suggesting otherwise is a pathetic attempt at scoring cheap political points,” he said.
These remarks, however, did not go down well with the AR that has since approached their lawyers demanding Shalli to retract his statement.
“As you know, our client has been at the forefront of the fight for the restoration of the dignity of Namibian people in general, and the disenfranchised persons in particular.
“We, therefore, demand as we hereby do that you immediately but before the end of business on the 9 November 2020 withdraw those remarks attributed to yourself and immediately issue an apology to the Namibian nation and a commitment that such utterances will not be repeated again,” wrote AR’s lawyer Kadhila Amoomo.
Amoomo said the AR movement has also been at the forefront of defending the Namibian constitution whenever, wherever and by whoever it may have been violated.
Equally, he noted their client is aggrieved and concerned by utterances attributed to Shalli being circulated by way of video footage wherein he is heard to communicate, direct or order the execution of members of the opposition parties.
“The aforementioned utterances are a direct violation of Article 6 of the Namibian Constitution (The right to life) as well as Article 17 of the Namibian Constitution (the right to participate in political activity). The rule of law and the democratic principles upon which our society is premised should always prevail,” he reacted.
According to Amoomo, should it be necessary, AR has instructed them to approach the High Court to compel Shalli to withdraw those remarks and a transcribed version of the audio will be prepared to support such an application.
The opposition Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has also expressed shock, dismay and is appalled by Shalli’s alleged remarks that those who left Swapo must be killed or assassinated for leaving that party.
LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi said he was surprised as Shalli’s views were not only his but opinions held by ‘Swapo’s cartel’ in a desperate attempt to muscle down democracy and get rid of opposing voices.
Swartbooi added that the timing was clear that Swapo wants to instil fear by using politically violent language to dismantle any voice of reason at a time when the regional council and local authority elections are imminent.
“We have recognised that Swapo has lost support and Namibians no longer respect them. They want to use Lubango tactics to eliminate opposition,” he said while calling on Namibians to stand ready and defend their right to freedom of association. – email@example.com