Demo Averted by Kameeta’s Intervention

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Bishop Zephania Kameeta of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is optimistic that an amicable solution will be found through “constructive negotiations” in the dispute between a committee of ex-combatants and the government. Kameeta is mediating in the dispute. In a statement issued over the weekend, Kameeta expressed gratitude to the former fighters for accepting his request to cancel the demonstration, which was planned for Monday, September 4 this year. “I firmly believe that all options for an amicable solution have not been exhausted. This problem is not bigger than the liberation of Namibia which we achieved,” states Kameeta. The wrangling will only “threaten the peace, tranquillity and development,” that the country has worked so hard to achieve during the past 16 years of independence, he stated. Citing the recent “war of words” between the two parties in the media, the Bishop noted that this was unfortunate, adding that “condemnations and demonstrations will not solve anything” but only widen the gap and “create more hostility and division” in the country. He urged both the ex-combatants and government to come together and find a lasting solution to the problem in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding. “We must learn to listen to one another and tolerate each other’s views. If we are not prepared to do this, we can altogether forget about Vision 2030, but settle for unrest, destruction and poverty,” explained Kameeta. He alluded to the fact that both the Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma and former combatants are proud symbols of the country’s liberation struggle. Given this strong historic heritage and significance, it becomes important that both their dignities be protected and valued for the coming generations. Recently three members of the Committee for the Welfare of Ex-Combatants held a consultative meeting with Bishop Kameeta to brief him on their plight. Spokesperson of the Committee, Alex Kamwi, said they agreed with the recently issued press statement by the Bishop and stuck by it. “We have no objection to the mediation role by the Bishop in this matter,” added Kamwi. Besides Kamwi, both the Coordinator of the Committee, Matheus Nangolo, and Vice-Chairperson, Vilho Shafombambi, were present during the meeting, while the Chairperson, Ruusa Malulu, was absent due to other commitments. The latest turn of events comes soon after the ex-combatants early last week vowed to stage a demonstration. However, they called it off at the request of Kameeta. A petition was handed by the Spokesperson of the Committee of the Welfare of Ex-Combatants, Alex Kamwi, to the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr Albert Kawana. Kawana received the petition on behalf of President Hifikepunye Pohamba. At the time, Kamwi informed New Era that they agreed to Kameeta’s request out of respect for the church and not because the ex-combatants are “cowards, but because we are peaceful people.” Before independence, the church played a mediatory role in addressing pressing challenges facing the country. The petition posed questions on how government would go about compensating the ex-Plan fighters for their role during the years they fought for liberation. “We want to know on the 23rd of September (2006) how government is prepared to compensate each and every ex-Plan fighter, and when,” read the petition. The Committee on the Welfare of Ex-Combatants also called for an end to name-calling of ex-combatants and for government to look into the welfare of ex-Plan fighters’ current living and working conditions. Receiving the petition, Kawana urged the ex-combatants to be patient while waiting for a response from the Head of State.