20 November 2012

Namibia: N$86 000 Pledged for Veterans' Association

Article Views (non — Over N$86 000 was pledged towards the construction of the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA) offices, as well as other activities to be initiated by the association, such as counselling and literacy training for war veterans.

At last Wednesday night's fundraising dinner held in Windhoek for the construction of the NNLVA offices, President Hifikepunye Pohamba pledged N$10 000.

Pohamba used the occasion to vent anger over the alleged ill-treatment of aged and disabled veterans by junior officials in the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and directed Veterans Affairs Minister, Dr Nicky Iyambo, to speak to them and to make them understand "why the veterans are here and to treat them humanely".

"They need training on how to handle freedom fighters," he charged. He also said the history of Namibia is marked by the bravery and gallantry of thousands of heroes and heroines who stood up to fight courageously and to resist colonial occupation and apartheid oppression in Namibia.

"These sons and daughters of the soil put their lives on the line and shed their precious blood to break the chains of colonialism and apartheid so that our country could be free and independent," he said.

"During the war of liberation many compatriots were injured on the battlefront and were left with permanent disabilities. Today they are unable to work because of war injuries and the resultant disabilities. That is the other face of the war of national liberation," Pohamba said.

The President also pointed out that many of the former combatants who fought against the enemy forces have not received counseling to deal with the aftermath of the war.

"This is one of the important aspects that should receive attention as we seek to integrate the veterans into the broader society," he advised.

"After the attainment of nationhood, it was natural for government to initiate programmes to pay homage to our fallen heroes and to take care of the welfare of the veterans of the national liberation struggle. The Heroes Acre and other monuments were built as a symbol of our honour and respect for those who sacrificed their lives and shed their precious blood for our freedom," he explained. Pohamba said programmes such as the Development Brigade Corporation and the Structural Integration Programme for Ex-Combatants (SIPE), the monthly subventions for veterans; the lump sum payments; the provision of housing; the provision of agricultural equipment and other initiatives were also started to assist veterans of the liberation struggle.

These measures aim at providing support to those who spent decades on the battlefront, as well as those who confronted the enemy inside Namibia. The President said this includes those who were incarcerated in prisons in Namibia and South Africa for decades because of their involvement in the liberation struggle, and thousands of ordinary Namibians who provided valuable assistance to the PLAN combatants in the face of retribution by apartheid troops.

The President further elaborated that in 1998, Cabinet established a technical committee on ex-combatants in order to identify and categorize unemployed former PLAN combatants and their socio-economic circumstances and to recommend measures for their permanent and reasonable integration into the Namibian society.

The technical committee carried out nationwide audits in all 13 regions and as a result more than 8000 ex- combatants were recruited into the public service.

Government further established the Ministry of Veterans Affairs with the specific mandate of caring for and addressing the challenges faced by the veterans of Namibia's liberation struggle.

The Namibian government has also donated a poultry project at Okatope in the Oshikoto Region to the NNLVA. The project used to belong to the defunct Development Brigade Corporation.

Pohamba also urged the private sector to get involved and to provide assistance to unemployed veterans, including bursaries and scholarships for their children.

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