By Prof Michelo Hansungule
President Banda is either ignorant or is blatantly lying in responding to Namibia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR)’s accusations that scores of Namibian Freedom Fighters disappeared while in Zambia during the liberation struggle. The President cannot say ‘There was no such a thing’. And the accusations against SWAPO are totally false [….]’. It is his statement which is ‘totally false’. The truth is that scores of people disappeared in SWAPO drenches. It happened also in the African National Congress (ANC).
People were tortured, killed, raped, and various kinds of inhuman acts perpetrated on them under the guise that they were agents of white minority rule. The difference between SWAPO and the ANC is that the latter under Mandela conceded and appointed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) with an extended mandate to include crimes committed under the watch of the ANC. People went to the TRC and spoke of how their loved ones disappeared without trace, how they were tortured, raped, by their comrades, etc. These things are open knowledge on the websites. SWAPO, on the other hand, has adamantly refused to acknowledge. They are in denial. This is the crap Banda would like to insult the Zambian intelligence with.
The problem is when you kill people, you don’t always manage to kill all. At least one or two would escape, hide, resurrect to reveal the truth some day. That is what happened in Rwanda during genocide. The victims of SWAPO disappearances did not all die. A good number are there in person today in Windhoek and other parts of Namibia. Daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, parents of some of those who disappeared, died, tortured, and so on, are there. I have met some of them in Windhoek. In addition to speaking through NSHR, they formed their own organization, Breaking the Walls of Silence (BWS).
It is there in Windhoek trying to persuade authorities to explain what happened. President Banda must seriously ask his colleagues in Namibia the next time he meets them what they are doing to speak to those women and men demanding to hear from them. This is important not only for these people, for former President Sam Nujoma or for Namibia but for President Banda himself. Africa is a very fragile continent.
Civilized politics has not yet held to the ground. There must be a way to deal with things like this than to sweep them under the carpet ‘There was no such thing’. Such things have a way of repeating themselves and who would want that? Impunity must be fought and not glossed over. Currently, a number of African personalities are facing torture and other crimes in Europe where they have universal jurisdiction for international crimes for crimes they committed while in government or non-government in Africa. Is this what Banda wants?
Does President Banda want former President Sam Nujoma to be arrested and tried in Europe for crimes he and his colleagues are suspected to have committed during the liberation struggle? I am sorry but this is what is going to happen if the problem is not addressed in Namibia or SADC because you can’t wish it away. There are children of disappeared here who are human beings like Mr. Banda’s children or Nujoma’s children and you can’t stop them every morning asking ‘where is my father’? It is as simple as that. Someone should answer this basic question in Namibia.