Namibia: 'Empty Promises' Leave Struggle Kids in the Cold

Roughly 300 members of the Children of the Liberation Struggle (CLS) claim they have been left jobless after the government failed to provide them with employment as allegedly promised since 2018.

The jobless 'struggle kids' completed a nine-month government vocational training programme through the Office of the Prime Minister, and, according to CLS chairperson Gabriel Hendrik, they were promised employment upon graduating.

"After graduating we were supposed to receive an appointment letter from the government. The training was good, but it was a waste because we have been sitting at home for the past two years," Hendrik says.

Matues Kaholongo, director at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), on Tuesday said this is not entirely true.

"They were trained under the government programme to either employ themselves or for the government to employ them," Kaholongo said.

"It is not justifiable for them to demand to be employed all at once, but we are appealing to them to be patient because we understand their plight," he said. In text messages between secretary to Cabinet George Simataa and Hendrik, Simataa said: "Strictly speaking, there is very little we can do to speed up the process ... I know it is frustrating on your part, but you should also understand that it has not been easy for [the government] to deal with the issue of CLS, but [we] tried. We are facing multiple social issues."

In 2016, the OPM established a committee to address the needs of the liberation struggle children.

According to Kaholongo, the ministry has since trained roughly 1 500 graduates, and has allocated them 1 200 jobs in various ministries.

"Imagine, we have provided 1 200 with jobs and we are struggling with the 300, and now they want to force that they be given jobs today. I don't think it's justifiable," Kaholongo said.

Hendrik, however, says this is what was promised when they joined the training programme.

He added that some, like himself, left their jobs to join the training, but are now worse off even though they are more skilled.

Kaholongo said the ministry is financially limited.

"As vacancies become available we will be able to see how we can allocate jobs to them . . . but they are not the only ones, they are competing with everybody else - the rest of the youth."

In the absence of jobs, the struggle kids are requesting a monthly allowance to support themselves, or capital to start business with.

"We understand the government is in a difficult position financially, but so are we. We have families to take care of," Hendrik said.

Another unemployed trainee, Malakia Erastus, said many children of the liberation struggle feel ignored by the OPM.

"When we go to the office we are told different things, but never get a job. They are just ignoring us."

CLS trainees continue to undergo nine months of civic and vocational training at centres around the country. During this period, they are accommodated in hostels and receive a monthly allowance of N$250.

Kaholongo said the National Youth Service would be embarking on new programmes for the struggle kids in areas such as agriculture and self-employment projects.

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