26 February 2013

Namibia: 'Struggle Kids' Besiege Ruling Party HQ

Photo: IRIN
File photo of street children in Zambia.

Windhoek — A fight nearly erupted between the police and the 'struggle kids' who wanted to enter the Swapo Party headquarters building by force on the grounds they wanted to meet the party's Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba.

A group numbering close to 600 'struggle kids' mainly from the Omusati, Khomas and Otjozondjupa regions have since last month joined forces and have set up camp on the periphery of the party head office in Windhoek.

Although the group initially camped together it became evident during yesterday's commotion that solidarity in their ranks has waned considerably.

Chaos broke out around 06h00 when the group of less than 100 'struggle kids' from the Khomas and Otjozondjupa regions planned to demonstrate in an attempt to enter the office complex to 'talk' to Mbumba about their plight.

Their living conditions have become so bad that some have even started to scrounge and scavenge at the Kupferberg dumpsite on the outskirts of Windhoek. "We went to the dumpsite to look for food. We are homeless. We used to survive from there, that is why we want jobs," one of the 'struggle kids' Ndakolo Lucas remarked.

The group has split into two factions, one from the Omusati Region and another from Khomas and Otjozondjupa regions combined. New Era understands the Omusati group does not want to mingle with the Windhoek and Otjiwarongo 'kids' because they are apparently unruly.

It is alleged that when the Omusati group realised that the rival group was planning a protest demonstration, they apparently alerted the police who responded promptly.

The intended protest was prevented from taking place, which angered the targeted group. They lit a huge bonfire and threatened that whoever would dare to extinguish the fire would die.

When New Era arrived at the scene the Omusati group stood aside while the small group of Khomas and Otjozondjupa 'kids' exchanged angry expletives with the police. "Leave us alone. We did not do anything wrong. Our parents died for this country. The reason you (police officers) have jobs is because our parents' blood waters this freedom," a furious young woman yelled at the police officers while holding a piece of burning wood.

The 'struggle kids' were in an agitated state and showed signs of aggression as they ran around the police officers using vulgar language. They even took a container of water and poured it around the officers.

The officers however did not react in a violent manner - instead they tried to explain to them that fighting will not solve anything. "We only wanted to go into the Swapo office to hear from Mbumba what is the way forward for us. Now the police blocked us. One police officer told us we 'will die like our parents'," said one of the 'struggle kids'.

"Mbumba passes by us every day but he does not bother to come and address us. We know we are all equal with other children born inside Namibia, but we want Swapo to explain why it is failing to fulfil on its promise to provide us with jobs. At least they must come and talk to us as to where we will be relocated while we wait for jobs," said Abraham Amupembe who is the Khomas and Otjozondjupa group leader.

The group is adamant that they will stay put, until they are offered jobs. The 'struggle kids' have also started loitering around the Katutura Shoprite complex begging for money and food. Police beefed up security in the area, but later dispersed them giving the aggrieved youngsters a few hours to calm down.

The Katutura Police Station Commander, Chief Inspector Ishmael Basson said they did not receive any instructions to remove the group. "We only got instructions to keep peace and order. We did not assault anyone. We will keep an eye on the premises," he noted.

Last week the Swapo Party Politburo expressed its discomfort with the manner and the attitudes displayed by the 'struggle kids' currently camping outside the ruling party headquarters and other places around the country.

The position of the Politburo is that it is utterly unfair and unacceptable that a group of young people who happened to be born outside the country during the war for the liberation of Namibia demand special treatment.

"The government represents all the people no matter where they were born and by whom. The Swapo Party government cannot discriminate against other young people of our country just because they were born here inside the country and by parents who remained inside the country," Mbumba lashed out.

The Politburo also resolved that the 'struggle kids' camping around the country and demanding jobs must return back to their homes. Government has said it will do everything to create jobs for all Namibians, but no group is so special as to deserve special treatment over other Namibians.

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