By Patience Nyangove
RETIRED Namibian Defence Force (NDF) Lieutenant-General, Martin Shalli, finally broke his silence this week about reports of him harbouring presidential ambitions.
He also responded angrily to allegations that he is affiliated to a political faction, allegedly led by several business people, including Desmond Amunyela, Vaino Nghipondoka and Armas Amukwiyu, among others, who are reportedly opposed to President Hage Geingob, ahead of the upcoming Swapo Congress.
In an exclusive interview with Confidente this week, Shalli, who has for years maintained his silence on Swapo political matters, disclosed that he harbours no presidential ambitions, as he is just an ordinary card-carrying member of Swapo.
Responding to a question about the youth pushing him to stand for a top four Swapo post, possibly even as president, Shalli repeated that he harbours no political ambitions.
Shalli also opened up about the infamous Okalongo meeting in December last year, which was reportedly held to plot a strategy to unseat Geingob.
Commenting on his alleged alliance with the business people, Shalli said they were his friends, but denied he was part of a clique that wants to topple the president at the upcoming Swapo Congress.
“This is a serious allegation (that I am part of an anti-Geingob clique)… I am not aware of any anti-Geingob clique. I am not answering this question straight away, I am saying since you have mentioned names to me Desmond Amunyela, Vaino Nghipondoka and Armas Amukwiyu those are my friends, and we are not a clique.
“They will remain my friends, and as far as I know, they are also Swapo members, but we are not a clique, we are not a grouping we are anti nobody, as far as I know, when we meet individually or collectively,” Shalli said.
“The next thing I was expecting (to be asked about) is this so-called Okalongo meeting, which never took place. Those invented things, we know where they are coming from, and that question has been asked many times. It’s just a wedding we went to attend, like all other people.
“Why then is a wedding turned into all this? People speak at weddings, people speak at funerals, they make political statements, and it’s not a meeting. That’s where you people are getting all these rumours from… from people with their own hidden agendas.
“I don’t want to get angry, but I don’t like this question. It’s a very stupid question, to be fair,” Shalli said Tuesday.
In response to a question that he was considering contesting for a position at the Swapo Congress, as president or vice-president, to represent the group of PLAN combatants that went into exile in 1974, he disclosed that he was too old to be politically active. He, however, added that even if he was to consider being politically active, he would follow the proper Swapo procedures.
“I am not politically active. I am not young. Do I join politics at my age and to do what? I have been a military leader, and that’s enough for me. Even if I had ambitions to do that, there are procedures to be followed, proper procedures, clearly set out in the Swapo Constitution, and everybody understands that.
“People must be happy with the type of leadership there is at the moment. I am not in the business to find out whether there is anybody who wants me to hold any other position in Swapo.
“That is subject to negotiations, you cannot just be told (to contest). Let them come out in the open and tell the nation. I can’t confirm nor deny it, because nobody has spoken to me.”
“I don’t know whether in Swapo there is this group of 74. Yes I know it as a term we used to characterise different generations within Swapo. There are those who joined in the 1960s, there are those who joined in the 1970s, there are those who joined in the 1980s and there are those who joined after independence. “It was just a way of finding out that this is generation one, two, three and four.
“I don’t know which generation I fall into, so whether it’s the second generation of freedom fighters or I am in the third generation of freedom fighters, or I am nowhere amongst those, I don’t know. Why did this group say this to you? Do they have specific interests,” Shalli said While reiterating that he is not anti-Geingob, Shalli declared his allegiance to Swapo, saying that not even divine intervention has the power to destroy the political party.
“We did not join Swapo to defend the interests of one specific group, and so forth. We are not in Swapo to be part of this group or a clique. We are here to serve the nation as a whole, and that’s what Swapo was established for.
“There are people we know who died in the name of Swapo. Why abandon it? Why make it less important or irrelevant, like the people who are striving to do so?
“That we will not do! We will continue to make sure that Swapo is here, as long as we live. As long as we live, those of us who have fought, that’s how it’s going to be, whether people like it or not,” Shalli said.
He said that even when people talk about why they left Swapo, “they will start mentioning individuals, and not because they differ with Swapo ideologies and principles, and all that”. “They differ with different people, and that’s all. I am not anti-Hage; I have worked with Comrade Hage for many years. These rumours are divisive; they want to destroy Swapo, but not even divine intervention can do that,” Shalli said. When asked what he has been doing since he retired from the NDF several years ago, and whether he had ventured into farming, he disclosed how he has applied several times for a resettlement farm, and each time his application was turned down.
“The answer is nothing. I have not been doing anything of public interest. You only farm if you have a farm. I don’t have a farm.Where do I get the money to buy a farm? Secondly, I was not allocated any farm… eight or nine times (I applied). I am blaming nobody, I am a very happy man,” Shalli added.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015