By Eliaser Ndeyanale
FORMER People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) soldiers have announced plans to petition the United Nations (UN) next week demanding funds, resettlement and rehabilitation.
According to the former freedom fighters, the petition will be handed to UN resident coordinator in Namibia, Kiki Gbeho, on Monday.
Gathered at an open space near Soweto’s UN Plaza in Katutura, on Saturday morning a group of more than 200 ex-combatants, some of them amputees, said they were promised by the UN in 1989 that when they arrived in an independent Namibia they would be resettled, compensated and rehabilitated for their contribution to the country’s independence but this never happened, explaining that to date they were only given N$10.00 and a pot each by the UN.
“Swapo must give us the money that they were given by the UN meant for rehabilitation and resettlement they must not wait for us to die. If the UN did not give money to Swapo as promised, it should explain to us what happened to it (money)”.
The disgruntled group is requesting from then PLAN commander in-chief founding President Sam Nujoma, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba who was Swapo party secretary of finance at the time, President Hage Geingob and Hidipo Hamutenya then secretary of information to explain where the money from the UN ‘disappeared’ to.
“We were only given a R10 and a pot. What happened to the money that was meant for rehabilitation and resettlement?” another veteran queried. The veterans who in recent years demanded and got a lump sum of N$50 000 each and N$200 000 for projects of their choice are also demanding more money saying the monthly grants that ranges between N$2 200, N$3 000 and N$4 000 should be increased because of high inflation.
”We were fighting for peace and after we gained independence it’s only some that are benefitting,” said another ex-combatant who also added her voice on the matter. “We were promised that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs was going to pay for tertiary education for our children, now they are saying one biological parent must be dead for a child to get a financial assistance; we don’t want such things.”
They also queried as to why they were being counselled by a man of the cloth who was not in the battlefield.
”Why are we being counselled by a pastor who knows nothing about what happened in the jungles? The plan to put comrade Kapolo (pastor Tshapaka tshaKapolo) at the department of veterans to counsel war veterans is to chop money,” an ex-combatant shouted, adding that counselling be done by political commissars because they know what soldiers went through during the southern Angola bush war of 1966-89. They are also demanding that their children who were born in exile also be recognised as war veterans. In a telephonic interview recently with Confidente permanent secretary in the Vice President’s Office Ambassador Hopelong Iipinge refused to go into details saying that the department was aware of the war veterans’ plea and it was consulting on whether the pay-outs are going to be increased or not.
The veterans are also fighting the provision in the Veterans’ Act which states that the qualifications of members of the management organ of the association of ex-combatants must be those who served as commanders during the war of the liberation struggle of a unit not lower than that of a detachment, veterans who served as commissioners, colonels or diplomats; saying such is in contrast with article 10 of the Namibian Constitution.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015