Windhoek — Prime Minister Hage Geingob says nobody wants the 'struggle kids' or any other Namibian youth to experience unemployment.
Geingob was reacting to reports about the latest march to Windhoek by the children of the veterans of the liberation struggle, based in the Outapi area in the Omusati Region.
Close to 400 'struggle kids' have embarked on the long and arduous journey covering a distance of close to 700km on foot from the north to Windhoek full of expectations to get an audience with the new Prime Minister and to petition him for jobs
Among them are mothers with their babies, as well as disabled individuals. Geingob told New Era yesterday there are strategies under review that would cater not only for struggle kids, but also other youths in a bid to tackle the high unemployment rate in the country.
"Well firstly, struggle children should know that nobody wants them to suffer. We are parents and freedom fighters too, no one should think that we don't care about them; nor should they just think that other people are not our children, whether they were in exile or not," the Prime Minister told New Era.
"We wouldn't and don't want anybody to be unemployed - whether it is 1 or 10 percent (unemployment rate). Some people think that we don't care, but we care and we are worried," stressed Geingob. He insisted existing laws do not prohibit peaceful demonstrations, but that the 'struggle kids' were given explanations on the consequences of occupying Swapo Party or government offices.
"I am studying what was done by the previous prime minister and there are strategies we want to implement and these have to include everyone. The law is very clear and they have been given an explanation not to occupy Swapo or government offices and to obey the police and the law. I want to emphasise that there is a belief that people think we do not care about struggle kids. That is wrong," he said.
The spokesperson for the group of marchers on their way south, Ndahafa Hamutenya has gone on record saying: "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."
"Well, I wouldn't know about it, and have to verify whether it's true or not. Some people got placement, but they cannot do with the hardships of that placement so they want to get out. Either you get a job or you don't. Some will leave the job and then go and demonstrate since they want a better one," was Geingob's response to the particular charge.
"If it is true, they must not think that demonstration pays. I don't want people to think that demonstration is the key to get a job. Even if you have a good case, the manner in which you present it may have a different outcome," he added.
Group spokesperson Hamutenya, speaking from Oshakati, said the names of the members of her group were registered with different ministries, but some were called into ministries that they did not sign up for, while jobs were given to others on other occasions.
"There was a boy who was called on his cellphone to start work at a school in Kavango. When he went there, he was told the job was given to someone else and that was last month. Last year, a girl was called to go to the police station in Ondangwa, but when she got there she was told to come for the next intake," she said.
However, when asked whether it is true that some had spurned or abandoned posts in search of alternative work, Hamutenya responded that some of them have vocational qualifications, which could better serve them if they were placed in specifically relevant environments.
"We don't want projects. We want jobs. They told us we were placed in different ministries. We used our own money to go to Windhoek only to be turned back at the end. I was in the Ministry of Works and Transport. I am a plumber by profession and I finished in 2007 at the Zambezi Vocational Training Centre, in Katima. They have never called me back," said Hamutenya.
Meanwhile, Ndapalia Ndapandula said she also received a call last year. "They called me and told me to go to Windhoek. I used my own money to go there and then they said that my name is not there? It was last year on October 8."
Hamutenya questioned the criteria used to recruit people in the Omusati Region and urged the government to improve on its "poor" communication skills with the 'struggle kids'.
"If there is nothing for us, they must tell us and not make us look like fools. We will now demonstrate, because they found a loophole and give jobs to the demonstrators in Oshana and Khomas; they should have told them to go back and follow the right procedures."
"We are not satisfied with the way government is treating us. When we asked them, all those things are now coming, what more if we didn't demonstrate? (sic) When will you tell us this? Not even an announcement on radio? We are unhappy, even if they send the police, we are going to meet the prime minister and we are not satisfied with answers from the governor and the regional commander," she said.