New Era (Windhoek)

7 February 2013

Namibia: Struggle Kids Threaten Nationwide Protest

Photo: IRIN
File photo of street children in Zambia.

Article Views (non — Hundreds of children whose parents fought in the struggle for liberation, including some who were born in exile, on Monday marched to the offices of the regional council in the Ohangwena Region under police escort to demand jobs and answers to a growing list of grievances.

The 'struggle kids' handed over a petition to Ohangwena Regional Governor, Usko Nghaamwa, and are demanding a response to their grievances, including the manner in which recruitment is taking place. They are especially unhappy over the criteria used in the recruitment process for government jobs in the Ohangwena Region.

They allege that officials in the Ohangwena Regional Council have overlooked their names during the recruitment process and instead favoured their own relatives and are therefore promoting nepotism in the region.

Speaking to New Era, the group leader and spokesperson, Ndahafa Methavelo (28) confirmed that apart from the march to the regional council they have also planned another march through the streets of Eenhana starting from the open market 'omatara' so as to let the public know about their concerns and demands.

"We have staged this peaceful march and demonstration so as to indicate our concerns about corruption and nepotism in the Ohangwena Regional Council. We have submitted our names for some possible posts, vacancies and skills related [training] activities some four years ago, but nothing has happened and [nothing] is forthcoming," he said.

"We have proven this since we submitted our names in 2010 for recruitment for any posts in the Ministry of Safety and Security, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, but we suspect that our names are being overlooked," he claims.

Police escorted the placard-waving group consisting mostly of young men and women. The Ohangwena group claims to be the largest in terms of numbers in the country, although they are least likely to be recruited for jobs.

"We are demanding ... concrete answers and finally trust that your office and all stakeholders concerned will look at our matters and grievances with seriousness," part of their petition reads.

"Failure to meet our request will result in an immediate and popular strike across the country starting from the Ohangwena Region and will mushroom throughout all the regions."

Methavelo, who is also the chairperson of the 'struggle kids' in the Ohangwena Region, says last year he received a rude shock during a follow-up visit to find out about the progress of the recruitment process, only to be told that the list they had submitted was lost.

Methavelo is the son of a retired soldier. According to him the list of names they submitted was only broadcast once on the Ohangwena Community Radio (OCR) Station.

Selma Saimbodi's father was killed during the liberation struggle in Angola. She says it is too hard for them to get jobs since the recruitment process in the police and the NDF is done 'unfairly'. "We have decided to march so that our regional governor can hand over the same petition to the relevant authorities.

"I have completed my Grade 12 and submitted my certificates and other documents as requested, but still we are not hearing anything from our regional office," says Selma Saimbodi

"We need these jobs and our government should care for us since our parents fought for this land. They say we are not educated but we shall continue to fight until we get what we want."

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