Namibia was the last out from the scramble for Africa, finally gaining true independence 21 March 1990  (apart from Walvis Bay, which had to wait a few more years) after an increasingly nasty guerrilla-war (which was, it can be argued, the only one to be won by the colonial power). Many of the combatants from the Rhodesian war - white, black, Rhodesian, South African, Cuban, Angolan, all played a role. 

One of the more interesting characters was Wouter Basson, who, it seems, served his apprenticeship in chemical and biological warfare in Rhodesia (even if this subject is conveniently erased from Rhodesian histories). It should also be noted that Basson, head of "Project Coast", has been repeatedly acquitted of the charges against him, and apparently wishes for reinstatement in the army.  

  

Post-independence history

Unfortunately the SWAPO government initially proved unwilling to accept criticism

"[The ban] was considered necessary because of [The Namibian's] campaign of dangerous misinformation of the Namibian people, which threatens the principles of unity, peace and stability that form the very foundation of our nation, and not just because the newspaper criticises government"

Claim by Government in EU report on criticism of buying and advertising ban on newspaper

"The Namibian is likely to endanger the security of the state or the maintenance of public order"

Argument by the then Apartheid regime and its apparatus like the SWA police in ordering the newspaper to pay a N$20,000 registration deposit in 1985. In a landmark judgement, Namibia's supreme Court ruled that constructive criticism was fundamental to a healthy democratic society, that criticism of public figures was likely to be stinging and that if people held a government in contempt, it did not necessarily constitute a danger to the security of the state or maintenance of public order.

The Namibian, p4, August 23 2002

 


Trace