By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK An intervention by Bishop Zephania Kameeta of the Evangelical Lutheran Church managed to avert the planned massive ex-combatant march to State House, which was called off yesterday. Bishop Kameeta will now be the main mediator between government and the ex-combatants in an effort to find an amicable solution to the ex-combatants issue. The Bishop will meet the Committee of the Welfare of Ex-Combatants next week Monday (September 11) after which he will mediate between the committee and government. Spokesperson of the Committee of the Welfare of Ex-Combatants Alex Kamwi yesterday handed over the petition to the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr Albert Kawana, on behalf of the Head of State, at the parking area of Independence Avenue in Katutura. However, prior to these developments yesterday, the crowd of ex-combatants who had gathered in the morning at Greenwell Matongo were determined to march to State House to hand over their petition to President Hifikepunye Pohamba. However, through a letter by the Bishop on Friday September 1, the ex-combatants were requested not to stage their demonstration but to allow the church to mediate and address the matter in a peaceful and amicable manner. Speaking to New Era, Kamwi said when the idea was placed before the ex-combatants no one was at first happy with the arrangement, but later they agreed in the spirit of resolving the issue peacefully. “There was a bitter argument, but then we decided not to stage the demonstration, but only just hand over the petition. We did it out of respect for the church. Our hearts are still bleeding but through this gesture, we want to show that we are for peace and not for disunity as people are advocating,” explained Kamwi, who was also accompanied by the ex-combatants committee chairperson Ruusa Malulu and other committee members. Most of the ex-combatants are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. “No one was happy, this is just a sacrifice,” added Kamwi who still seeks an amicable solution to the plight of the ex-combatants regarding compensation without delay. In showing a sense of maturity, the committee therefore allowed the church to intervene. “We did not accept it because we are cowards but because we are peaceful people,” he said. Even before independence the role of the church as mediator was critical in addressing the pressing challenges facing the country. Reading the petition, Kamwi noted that the ex-combatants are ready to fully cooperate with government in negotiations and therefore chose not to stage the demonstration. The petition still focuses on how government would go about to compensate the ex-Plan fighters for their role in the liberation struggle. “We want to know on the 23rd of September how government is prepared to compensate each and every ex-plan fighter and when,” reads the petition. The committee further called for an end to name-calling of ex-combatants and for government to look into the welfare of ex-combatants’ living and working conditions. Upon receiving the petition on behalf of the Head of State, Minister of Presidential Affairs Dr Kawana said that on several occasions government has expressed its continuous support to review the welfare of the ex-combatants and to improve their conditions. It is against this background that the Structural Integration Programme for Ex-Combatants (SIPE) was established as well as the Development Brigade Corporation (DBC). “The ex-combatants’ plight is not forgotten and government is constantly reviewing their conditions and that of the welfare of the entire nation – it is just a question of limited resources,” said Dr Kawana. In conclusion, he pleaded with the ex-fighters to be patient and peaceful while they wait upon an answer from the Head of State in response to their petition.
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