Swapo political bureau and central committee member Tobie Aupindi has hit back at Economic Freedom Fighters’ leader Julius Malema after he called the Swapo-led government corrupt.
Aupindi’s annoyance came after Malema, the fiery leftist, while condemning the arrest of the Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) Epafras Mukwiilongo, labelled the ruling party-led government as corrupt during a press conference.
Malema, addressing a press conference in Johannesburg said, “We condemn the Namibian government for the arrest of EFF members of parliament and EFF activists who are militantly fighting against the corrupt government of Swapo.”
Mukwiilongo and Michael Amushelelo, the economic commissar of the NEFF, were among eight people arrested on Friday after Amushelelo went to Chinatown to shut down businesses claiming the Chinese-owned shops also sell goods that are similar to the ones belonging to black people and regarded as counterfeit. The Namibia Revenue Agency last week burnt N$5 million worth of counterfeit goods, which sparked a protest on Friday morning that led to the arrests and several people injured when police fired rubber bullets and teargas.
Speaking to New Era yesterday, Aupindi said Malema and other distinguished EFF members should rather work hard and solve the many multibillion-rand corruption scandals in South Africa “that we usually read about in the media”.
“We in Swapo will continue solving the economic plight of our people in Namibia,” said Aupindi who is also a member of parliament (MP).
He reminded the EFF leader that Swapo liberated Namibia from the apartheid regime which was orchestrated from Malema’s homeland, South Africa.
“Today much of the poverty we experience here in Namibia can be attributed to the same apartheid legacy from South Africa. “I expect that any honest elected leader in South Africa, if they care deeply about Namibia, should advocate for South Africa to do more in healing the wounds of apartheid that they have caused in Namibia and not to inflame an already fragile situation we are just recovering from,” he said.
He said Swapo has a proud history and robust economic programme for the development of Namibia and its people, centred around the party election manifesto which the government has transformed into programmes of implementation such as the national development plans (NDP) and interventionist programmes such as the Harambee Prosperity plans. Equally, he said President Hage Geingob has made it a point to promote a Namibian House with shared prosperity, where no one should be left out.
“Corruption must be looked at in its individual context. All people jailed for corruption come from various sectors of society and not just Swapo members,” Aupindi said.
Therefore, he said to generalise it as a Swapo value proposition is really trying to steal the show in an unprofessional manner.
“It is the Swapo government that brought about the rule of law in Namibia. Throughout the years since 1990 when Swapo formed the first independent government, some high-profile Swapo members were either arrested, some jailed or prosecuted,” he said, adding that these are individuals who are alleged to have transgressed the law and defended themselves or were required to defend themselves individually.
“Does EFF think if Swapo was corrupt then we will allow our government to arrest all these high profile Swapo members? But we do so because, in Swapo, we believe that everyone is equal before the law,” he said.
Aupindi said he has great respect for Malema but he definitely does not share his views of generalising Swapo as a corrupt party.
“This is far from the truth. It’s unfortunate that the honourable Julius Malema will utter such sentiments. It’s probably attributed to the fact that he seems not to be a Namibian thus chances are that he may not understand that we are a country of law and order,” he said.
Malema is no stranger to controversy.
In 2020, Malema came under heavy criticism from Zimbabwe’s governing Zanu-PF after he criticised their government over reports of massive looting of funds under the guise of fighting the novel coronavirus.
Malema was also banned from entering Botswana in 2014 after he previously called for the overthrow of the government of Botswana’s president Ian Khama, who he claimed was a Western stooge.