Freedom for Zambezians and Basters?
WHAT should a left-wing standpoint be on the right to self-determination? This theme is of huge consequence given that the trial of the Zambezi (Caprivi) political prisoners is finally coming to an end.
It is certainly hoped that those prisoners who were recently released would tell their stories about being tortured and about being incarcerated for so long. The Namibian nation should know who these torturers are and steps should be taken against them.
As Namibians we should also use this historical moment to take up the challenge posed in that marvellous editorial ‘Openly debate secession, for the sake of peace’ (The Namibian, 18 September 2015). The Namibian nation must deliberate on the questions of secession and the right to self-determination in a peaceful and democratic fashion. The heavy-handed and violent repression from Swapo has failed to resolve these disputes and many crimes were committed by the Namibian security forces in the process.
The right to self-determination is decided first and foremost by whether or not a group could be regarded as a nation. And, this is a political and historical matter. It should be kept in mind that the colonial-apartheid rulers distorted the (cultural) Stalinist definition of ‘nation’ – which actually clearly differentiated ‘nation’ from ‘tribe’ – to try and justify their oppression.
As the editorial stated, the idea of Rehoboth as an independent state is laughable. Of course, the same applies to the Zambezi region. With our background of apartheid and colonialism, this talk about secession is divisive and sounds like us being dragged back into the nightmare of racism and tribalism. The people of the Zambezi or Rehoboth undoubtedly do not constitute a ‘nation’ in the contemporary political sense of the concept.
The left-wing must realise that Zambezians and Basters do not have the right to self-determination as we must never pander to tribalism – there should be no place for Zambezi or Baster tribalism in the Land of the Brave. Tribal groups do not have the right to self-govern as the nation is primary.
Let the debates on the right to self-determination and secession continue.