By Nkrumah Mushelenga
IT is a worldwide considered practice that the plight and status of war veterans of the liberation struggle after post war conflict, remains priority number one of the liberation movement ruling party government. This is because of the protracted nature of voluntary political, diplomatic and armed liberation legacy, the situation which is characterised by perpetual inequalities, poverty, hunger and devastating multiple diseases.
A case in point is that of the Chinese Red Army, and Algeria, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia liberation freedom fighters’ legacies. In searching for a durable solution to their plight, the former President of the Republic of Namibia, the SWAPO Party and indeed the Commander-in-Chief of the Namibia Defence Force, signed on the 30th of April 2008, a Veterans Act, No. 2 of 2008.
In the land of the brave, the principle underlining factors on how best a government can manage veteran’s welfare, is regulated and enshrined in the Veterans Act, 2008 (Act 2, 2008).
The Act defines the Hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs national responsibilities as; to provide for the establishment of a Veterans Fund for the provision of assistance to veterans and dependants of veterans; to provide for the registration of veterans and dependents of living or deceased veterans; to provide for the establishment of projects for the benefit of and assistance to veterans and dependents of veterans; to provide for the integration of pension benefits of veterans; to provide for the constitution and functions of the veterans’ board and veterans; appeal board; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the forgoing.
Meanwhile, the Veterans Act, define a veteran;
• As any person who was a member of the liberation struggle force;
• Has consistently and persistently participated or engaged in any political, diplomatic or under-ground activity in furtherance of the struggle;
• Owing to his or her participation in the liberation struggle was convicted, whether in Namibia or elsewhere, of any offence closely connected to the struggle and sentenced to imprisonment, but does not include persons who during the war deserted the liberation struggle unless that person subsequently re-joined the struggle waged in Namibia and other countries by liberation forces against colonial forces and which struggle resulted in the attainment of independence of Namibia on the 21st March 1990.
It is a fact, that in Namibia, the struggle for political independence was fought by a chain of generations – the generation of the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s. The majority of the 70s and 80s joined the struggle while under the age of 30 years. I thus, concur with those saying that youths are the engine of social economic transformation.
On the 1st, of September 2010, government recognised the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA), as the authentic representative of the veterans of the liberation struggle of Namibia.
The main objectives of the NNLVA, among others is to; represent the interests of all its paid up members; to serve as a transmission belt between Government authorities on matters affecting the interests and welfare of veterans; and indeed, to advise Government through the Ministry of Veterans Affairs on all matters affecting the interest of veterans just to mention a few. We drew our members from the pool of government recognised veterans. It is indeed true that the protracted struggle for Namibia’s political independence was waged by generational youths of the 60s, 70s and 80s. It is also a fact that the success of any nation depends on its strategic inclusive youth tailor designed skills development gaol.
Namibia has the best strategic data base registration system, a classification of which all categories of defined veterans are captured. Where did we go wrong? We moved away from the liberation struggle cultural norms – the culture of unity, love, kindness, inclusivity based in the spirit of Namibia, one nation. We have indeed adopted a culture of finger pointing at the expenses of constructive criticism.
The other strategic mistake we made, is the absence of clarity in terms of definition, between the “dependents of the living or deceased veterans” and the kids of the liberation struggle. The Act prescribes the Hon. Minister of Veterans Affairs national responsibilities as among others; to provide for the establishment of a Veterans Fund for the provision of assistance to veterans and dependants of veterans; the registration of veterans and dependents of living or deceased veterans; establishment of projects for the benefit of and assistance to veterans and dependents of veterans; to provide for the integration of pension benefits of veterans; to provide for the constitution and functions of the veterans board and veterans appeal board; and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.
I commend Mr. Joseph Kalimbwe, for his unifying artistic writing in the Sun Newspaper dated 27/12/16 titled ‘Youth investment’. According to him, youth investment can only be achieved if improvements of national strategic goals are focused on important sectors of a country such as education, health, agriculture and technological skills are correctly managed at national level.
It is true, that the struggle for political independence was long and bitter as was projected by comrade Ya Toivo, and it was fought on several fronts. There were number of choices. SWAPO Party knew that one day Namibia shall be independent and that we cannot govern a country if and when we are not strategically prepared to manage government affairs. Hence, some comrades were sent by the SWAPO Party for career development in the following sectoral fields of; education, health, labour, administration, clerks, policing, military academy, international relations, migrations, refugees, and agriculture and there were those who were fulltime Plan; hence, the demands for human capacity development.
As part of his Government strategic approach to eradicate poverty as a durable solution while consolidating peace and stability, the President and his Cabinet adopted an early warning intervention system to prevent the ungovernable occurrences in the country, e.g. the meeting between the government and the AR over land issues; the President’s precautionary advice to traditional leaders not to promote tribalism in their communities; the holding of countrywide public meetings, the intensive worldwide promotion of Namibia as an investor friendly country; Namibia’s strategic geographical position in SADC; the worldwide recognition of Namibia as a beacon of peace, and stability; all these have made Namibia to a tourist attraction.
As the living fathers and mothers of the children of the liberation struggle, we on behalf of the deceased veterans, wish to commend our government, the SWAPO Party, and indeed the opposition for adopting the Veterans Act 2 of 2008. Parties in both august Houses of Parliaments,
In the same vein we wish to applaud His Excellency the President of the Republic and of the SWAPO Party, and commander in- Chief of the Defence Force, for legitimately coordinating with the portfolio institutions to transfer the amount of N$11,3 million from the Social Security Commission (SSC) as a motion of a national sustainable skills development programme for the children of the liberation struggle.
We are excited to learn that 251 children from 14 regions, are receiving training in the Zambezi Region, 260 are being trained at Berg Aukas and 54, are undergoing training at NIMT in Arandis. Congratulations comrade President. NNLVA sees the legacy of the children of the liberation struggle as an inseparable from that of the SWAPO Party political, diplomatic and armed liberation legacy. For sure, the plight of children of the liberation struggle is a national concern.
The issues are not youths against elders and not women against men, but the enemy of peace, stability and social economic development, and premeditated corrupt practices, which if not timely addressed, can become a poverty generational pandemic.
We are thus, appealing to those struggle kids who have not yet accepted the government skills development offers, to, through the spirit of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, seize this golden opportunity, in the interest of peace, stability and prosperity for all. Let 2017 be a year of corrective responsibilities for all.
Nkrumah MUSHELENGA: RT Commissioner for Refugees
NNLVA National Coordinator
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015