William John Basson: A tribute
On the 11 October 2016, I woke up early to record an audio for Ndjikiti National Radio. The object of this particular day was to urge “one and all, to listen to their families, friends and comrades who may be going through storms of trials and tribulations, especially those about to give up on life and to give such people hope.” The audio clip circulated widely including to the late Cde. Basson.
As fate would have it on that same day (11 October) the Cde Basson composed his suicide note. On 21 October 2016 around 12:00, he committed suicide. A day after, I travelled to Swakopmund to meet the widow Cde Connie Basson, his bereaved parents, his children Carami, Zinzan and Raymondi, his siblings and other family members who were assembled at their Mondesa residence.
As we sang the Swapo Party anthem in his honour, at the Tamariskia cemetery on November 5, both the lyrics and the rhythm symbolised the person he was, always in “unity and solidarity” with his family, friends and comrades. He would often say “SWAPO oye Meme, SWAPO oye Tate” (Swapo is my mother and my father) and he meant it. Clearly as we mourn his passing, the question “why” he died the way he did, has no answer.
He served our country as a soldier in the NDF. After an accident on duty, he was deemed unfit for service. He defied the odds and went on to manage the family business Welwitschia Security Services, which had a contract with Rössing Uranium (Pty) Ltd at the time.
I learned from the late Cde Tommy Kayimbi, the former SWAPO Party Regional Coordinator of Erongo Region that the late Cde Basson had put a big SWAPO flag in the office of Welwitschia Security Services, much to the irritation of some people in Rössing who at the time were sympathetic to the Rally for Democracy Progress (RDP).
As Cde Sioni Iikela puts it “this spelled trouble for Welwitschia Security Services which ultimately made them lose the lucrative contract with Rössing”. It was a long and orchestrated political campaign that would last up to his death.
The late Cde Basson was ever Ndjikiti on principles. I recall the tension on the 23 June 2013 in the Special Central Committee meeting of SWAPO Party shortly after the Extraordinary Congress in Swakopmund. The meeting was especially convened to discipline SPYL NEC and specifically me for alleged insults to the ‘elders’. It was under such atmosphere in the meeting that I remember one CC member interjecting saying “Comrade President there is another Facebook post already from a Ngurare supporter.”
President Pohamba allowed that message to be read. The CC member went ahead to read and lo and behold it was posted by the late William Basson. It went something to the effect that “… SWAPO Party is not the possession of some people only, freedom of expression and of speech must not suppressed, why should some be treated unfairly for merely speaking out, let us all be defenders of Swapo equally.” To the disappointment of those who were gunning for our blood, President Pohamba said there was nothing wrong with the post.
That was the Basson we have lost, straightforward and uncompromisingly direct when it came to matters of principles. Before independence, he was equally a fearless freedom fighter as a student activist who partook in the 1988 Student Uprising. He championed a Namibia in which all people life in harmony and with equal opportunity.
I remember his selfless hard work during our launch of 12 May Movement in Erongo in 2012. Most people do not know what went on behind the scenes during the preparation of that event. There were forces that were determined to sabotage it. We had to dispatch Cde Lucia Iipumbu together with Cde Sioni Iikela from headquarters to beef up the regional SPYL to ensure success of the event.
It was on the shoulders of late Cde Basson that strategic intervention rested and supported by late Cde Kayimbi and our Regional Secretary Cde Laina Shapange. And it was a resounding success.
I remember vividly one evening in August 2013 as we were making final touches to the first ever SPPM Congress in a free and independent Namibia held in Okalongo, Omusati Region. The late Cde Basson called saying he will not miss that congress and asked whether he could attend. I told him we would be very happy to have him. The next morning, we saw late Cde Basson with his wife in Okalongo.
This national hero has closed his eyes forever but his legacy must live on. He endured economic hardship and vilification because of the politics of 2012, such is life. Indeed, words are still not adequate to console his widow, the children and entire bereaved family. It is my prayer that in unity and solidarity, the legacy of the fallen comrade must be for the present generation to unite. May your soul rest in eternal peace, Boeta Raymund.