24 January 2013

Namibia: Struggle Kids March to Windhoek, Again

Photo: IRIN
File photo of street children in Zambia.

Windhoek — Prime Minister Hage Geingob must brace himself for an encounter with the 'struggle kids' from the Outapi area, who yesterday began a long march to the capital to see him over their unmet demands.

Moreover, they have made it clear in no uncertain terms that once they reach the Prime Minister's Office they will not move an inch until their demands are met.

Last week almost 400 struggle kids spent five days outside the Swapo Party regional office at Outapi in an attempt to convey their demands for gainful employment before they embarked on the march to the capital.

New Era is in possession of a court order (rule nisi) that was presented to them on Tuesday, January 22, requiring them to show cause on January 25, 2013 at 9:00 or soon thereafter why they should not be ordered to vacate a public road called Ipumbu Yashilongo Street between the Outapi Town Council and the Swapo Party Regional Office, and to remove their tents.

The four respondents cited in the court order are Josua Josef, Sem Shipepe, Selma Fabianus and spokesperson Ndahafa Matilde Hamutenya. Hamutenya said the 'struggle kids' of that region had filled out forms at least two years ago, but nothing has come of that. "We have been waiting patiently for so long and we saw that government only responds to demonstrators from Oshakati and Windhoek and now we are also demonstrating," she said.

Moreover, she said their march would take two to three weeks and would include about 370 people, including seven pregnant women, 12 children and four people living with disabilities. "This demonstration is not different from the demonstrations they have had all these years to press for employment from government and that's why they went to the Swapo offices to draw attention to their cause," said NamRights executive director Phil ya Nangoloh.

"We hope that they are allowed free passage to come to Windhoek and demonstrate as they have the right to [demand] access to the upper echelons of our government to make their case and they have a right to be heard," he added.

"We disagree totally with those voices in this country who are apparently against these citizens of the liberation struggle. There is an avalanche against them. Besides that, these people/children are not instigating nor inciting anyone else to demonstrate. They are demonstrating to get their rights assured.

"We reject people who claim that these children are not special. They are special, because their parents died abroad. They were refugees. We should also recognize the fact that those who lost their parents in the country is a different case from those whose parents died in exile," said Ya Nangoloh.

Nobody from the Prime Minister's Office, as well as the commander of the police in Omusati Region, was available for comment at the time of going to print late yesterday afternoon.

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