Swapo regalia on Cassinga Day confuses people

Stefanus Nashama

The wearing of Swapo Party regalia has left many people in a state of confusion with mix feelings, questioning if Cassinga Day is a national public holiday or a Swapo day.

This comes after Swapo Party Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa and many other party members and Cassinga Survivors in party colours went to commemorate the Cassinga Day at the Swapo Party Office at Okandjengedi in Oshakati, Oshana Region yesterday.

As declared by the Namibian Government, Cassinga is a national public holiday in Namibia, the Day in which Namibia remembers the Cassinga Massacre, commemorated annually on 4 May, the date in which approximately 600 people died, especially women and children after the South African Defence Force attacked a Swapo Base at Cassinga in southern Angola. The incident occurred in 1978.

Political Analyst and Lecturer at the University of Namibia, Ndumba Kamwanyah, says Swapo is part of Cassinga history, but it depends on the context in which the party commemorates Cassinga Day in the party’s regalia.

“If it is the president addressing the nation on the commemoration of Cassinga Day, then there is no need of wearing any political party’s regalia at all. However, if Swapo does it at a party level, then they are allowed to wear their party colours,” Kamwanyah said.

He further said Cassinga Day is a national public holiday, and at national level-the state and the government, it should be commemorated by every Namibian regardless of political differences because people died for the independence of all Namibians.

War Veteran, Elizabeth Nantanga said the commemoration of Cassinga has nothing to do with political parties.

Namibians were even supposed to wear white or black which signifies peace and sadness, Nantanga said.

“Some of us are War Veterans, and some of us are no longer members of Swapo. Parties regalia has no meaning to this very important day in the history of Namibia,” she reiterated.

Nantanga blamed the government for not recognising and sympathizing with the families whose loved ones lost their lives in such a horrible attack.

“The Government declared the day as national public holiday and recorded the number of people who died in the attack, but failed to give support to the families of those who died in Cassinga, she said.

“It is true that many people died in Cassinga were Swapo members but at this point, there is no need for party regalia. At this stage, there is a difference between Swapo and the Government. The Government is the one that declared the day as national, therefore, we should all be part of this commemoration, “she added.

Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters Leader and Parliamentarian Epaphras Mukwiilongo said all Namibians are and were affected by the incidence of the Cassinga Massacre.

“It wasn’t just Swapo people who died in the Cassinga attack. Many people died there, our brothers and sisters. Some people were taken to Cassinga by force, and some went there for different reasons but they died there,” Mukwiilongo stressed.

Mukwiilongo also said there are many Cassinga Survivors who are no longer members of Swapo, therefore, he condemned the wearing of the Swapo party regalia on this day.

Historian and Political Analyst, Sacky Johannes also shared the same sentiments, saying although Swapo fought for independence and was at the forefront of fighting against the enemy, it is not okay to wear Swapo party colors at the remembrance of Casinga.

“We are commemorating the national day, a national event in which we lost people for the independence of Namibia,” Johannes said

The commemoration of Cassinga is for all Namibians and not for a certain political group, he said.

Johannes further said it is time for Namibians to put aside political differences when it comes to these types of events.

However, he said Swapo has a good record of liberating the country, doing such commemoration at party level is reasonable, but it is also a fact that some War Veterans and Cassinga Survivors are no longer with Swapo Party.

Swapo Regional Coordinator of Oshana, Werner Iita said whether they commemorate it at party level or national it doesn’t matter because the independence of Namibia came through Swapo party, and the party cannot be separated from the Government.

“The main objective was to commemorate the Cassinga Day in remembering the sons and daughters who were murdered by the South African regime. We are remembering our brothers and sisters. We will not forget them, and we cannot forget what the South African regime had done to our innocent and selfless people who were simply fighting for freedom, Iita said, “Iita said.

Swapo Party Secretary General Shaningwa was the Main Speaker at the commemoration.

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