By Clemence Tashaya
THE former South West African Territorial Force (SWATF) members, a military component and wing of the South African Defence Force (SADF) before the independence of Namibia, is appealing to both the Namibian and South African governments to assist its members to get their promised pensions. They were promised incentives after Namibia won its independence in 1990.
This was according to the agreed national reconciliation policy. SWATF as a component of the SADF worked for two governments, the South West African now Namibian and South African government.
It is understood that members of the SWAFT are calling for both governments to explain on the position of their pension payouts. Sources also confirmed to the Caprivi Vision that the SADF Trust Fund was created as a South African Cape Corps Trust (SACCT) which promised to make a payout of N$ 490, 000 to each of the former soldiers.
The founder and Chairperson of the SACCT, Henry January who is also the founder and leader of the newly launched South African political party, Khoisan Aboriginal and other Movements (KAOM) is the one advocating on behalf of both SADF and SWATF.
According to January, in accordance with the South African law, Act 200 of 1993, it stipulates that all former SADF soldiers including members of the Territorial Forces such as SWATF in Namibia are entitled to compensation as they could not be integrated into the new South African Defence Force.
Mr Benson Kaapala a member of the SWATF in Namibia explained that the issue was once discussed in the National Assembly and on NBC’s current affairs progammes but nothing concrete has come out. The issue has suffered a black out both in the media, parliament and to those affected. He explained that those affected seem to be afraid of SWAPO government intimidation tactics hence the silence.
“We want the media to expose and investigate this and let the public know that we are having empty promises from the two governments. The NDF was formed out of these two groups and the SWAPO led government knows all this information so they should facilitate our pensions as promised. Ex-SWATF members are being cheated every time they talk about compensation and nothings happen,” he said
Members interviewed on condition of anonymity by the Caprivi Vision also appealed that they should be a law enacted by the Parliament that should guide this pension compensation. It was also established that the only war veterans being classified and recognized as “genuine war veterans” are only those from PLAN not SWATF which members labeled as a divide and rule tactic by the SWAPO led government.
“Where is the national reconciliation policy in this case?” asked a SWATF member
Mr Kaapala also proposed while being supported by members interviewed on condition of anonymity that their position should be known as SWATF and SADF in Namibia to avoid further victimization and cheating.
It was also established that the former South African Defense Force Commander, Henry January the advocate of this pension fund was later arrested by his government for advocating for both the SWATF and SADF. Apart from that sources confirmed that a lump sum of 36 million Rands was paid out to both the PLAN and SWATF members soon after the war in 1990 by the South African government but this was not meant to be their pensions after they disbanded SWATF, a component of SADF.
“We do not have clues on who is supposed to pay us whether, the South African government or our current SWAPO led government or instead they should just come out and tell us because we are tired. We understand that Henry January even took the South African government to court in 2005 and won the case that all Ex-SWATF and SADF members be paid. A dialogue to be facilitated by the Namibian government is of cardinal importance where the South Africans will be represented by Henry January and SWATF will be represented,” lamented Mr Kaapala who is also the Executive Chairperson of Katima Alliance Development Association in Namibia
The Minister of War Veterans Nicky Iyambo who was recently on an induction tour in the Caprivi region explained to the Caprivi Vision that members who oppressed the liberation struggle like SWAFT, KOVOET and others should forget and smile because they worked for our enemies who killed our brother and sisters during the liberation struggle.
“The government shall not recognize them because they were our oppressor’s and we do not want to hear about them. The people to be recognized by the government of Namibia are those who fought the war for us to be free from the yoke of colonialism and apartheid. Members of SWATF and KOVOET can not claim to have genuinely fought for the liberation of their people. Instead they were oppressing the Namibians and none of them will qualify to be a member of the war veterans. Veterans are those who fought for the truth of the liberation of the country not those people who prevented Namibia to get independence. They arrested, killed their brothers and sisters, raped and terrorized people and they can not be veterans,” he explained
“They were in cahoots with the enemy and they must say thank you because we have a policy of national reconciliation and they can live in Namibia and they should leave the war veterans in peace because they are the true freedom fighters,” said Minister Nicky Iyambo
The Ministry of War Veterans’ Director of Policy, Heritage and Registration Services, Ms Kaatry Imalwa who was the Acting Permanent Secretary when this publication enquired explained that no such promises were written on paper or documented. Therefore the Ministry does not recognize SWATF fighters as war veterans because they are not registered.
“We have made no such promises to those individuals and as a Ministry we have many projects that we are doing including documentations for the history and the improvements of the lives of our war veterans. The Ministry deals with technical issues mandated and instructed by the government not from SWAPO party. The government does not recognize SWATF as war veterans until they come to register with us if they are given a go ahead by relevant authorities. Registration started in July 2008 and those affected should apply like what others have done. We are still receiving some application letters even up-to-date, applications are still coming and finally the Ministry’s board sits in a meeting and finally processes the applications and give a final decision on who should be called a war veteran,” she explained.
The Acting Permanent Secretary further explained that as a Ministry, they work as civil servants not SWAPO party officials and are given instructions by what will have been enacted in the parliament as a law or by the government not a political party.
“This is not a SWAPO party issue. If there is anything to prove that SWATF members were given N$ 36 million by the South African government, then they should come forward with proof but there is nothing like that in the Ministry of Veterans’ coffers. From whom are they waiting their pension’s compensation to come from?” she questioned.
The SWAPO led government of Namibia only recognizes PLAN members, some of them who were co-opted in the defence force as only legible beneficiaries of the pension fund. So far there is no association in Namibia which represents them so as to air their grievances to the government. It is understood that SWATF was a South African white’s military wing which was working against undermining the PLAN movement which was a SWAPO party movement.
Sources privy to this issue also confirmed that the pensions for SWATF members was already disbursed to the government for compensation but the SWAPO led government used it for other purposes.