The office of former president Dr Sam Nujoma this week expressed dismay about comments made about him on social media questioning the former president’s liberation struggle credentials.
Young social media users, including former personal assistant at the Swapo headquarters, Henny Seibeb, disputed that Nujoma was founding president of the ruling party Swapo as well as founding president of Namibia.
Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Dr Elijah Ngurare – expelled from Swapo last year until the Windhoek High Court directed his reinstitution into the party – was among those who defended Nujoma as founding president of both Swapo and Namibia.
Ngurare said the term ‘founding’ was in reference to the fact that Nujoma was the first president of both the party and the country, and not necessarily that he established them.
After picking up the emotional exchanges on Facebook, Nujoma’s office issued a strongly-worded statement in which it defended his legacy.
“Since these juvenile detractors are best advised to research and study the Founding President’s role in the struggle for liberation we have to set a few matters straight for their own benefit,” the statement reads.
“It is an established fact that our modern legitimate struggle for national liberation was led by our Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation, Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma, and no amount of ‘revisionist history’ will alter that.”
“The contribution that Dr Sam Nujoma has made towards the liberation of Namibia and subsequently its development is a matter of global record and no right-thinking individual could ever question it.”
“He selflessly led Namibia’s liberation struggle with a majestic sense of purpose. In all those difficult times, ghastly as they were at times, Dr Nujoma provided rare leadership qualities which saw us through to our national victory,” the office further said.
The statement said that for his role Nujoma received numerous national and international awards in recognition of his selfless sacrifices to the cause of Namibia’s genuine freedom and independence.
“One reason this misguided group has the freedom to speak this way right now, is precisely because of that freedom that was brought about by Dr Nujoma and many other gallant sons and daughters of Namibia.”
“As a result of his outstanding role, he stands out as the symbol of our modern struggle for nationhood. He is a symbol of our freedom, a symbol of our peace and stability, a symbol of One Namibia, One Nation and above all, an architect of the policy of National Reconciliation.”
To most Namibians, Nujoma is a hero of the Namibian liberation struggle, his office said.
“In this sense, those who vilify him, knowingly or unknowingly, must be exposed for their unpatriotic actions and must be held to account for the consequences of their actions. Many questions are lingering in the minds of all names, namely, why run this campaign against the Founding President and most importantly, why now?”
“While we do not know what are the motives behind this campaign to discredit the good name of the Founding Father, one thing this group should know is that Dr Nujoma has survived worse than these unpatriotic efforts. In the crucible of the struggle, Dr Nujoma survived many onslaughts, directly and indirectly, orchestrated by the well-resourced and heinous apartheid regime of South Africa.”
The office said the ill-fated Pretoria regime spent millions of dollars not only to tarnish Nujoma’s hard-earned reputation by casting aspersions on his person, but also by trying by all means to end his life prematurely.
“But despite all the resources at its disposal, the apartheid regime had failed dismally.”
“We hold the sacred values of free speech and expression in the highest regard, but it cannot be done at the expense of the destruction of the good names and reputations of others. Clearly this well-selected group of individuals are running a clearly orchestrated campaign against the Founding President or doing so with the belief that the more you tell a lie, the more people will start believing it,” the statement says.