War Vets to Soon Move into Houses

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The construction of houses for war veterans, whose living conditions are deplorable, is likely to start towards the end of next week. This was disclosed by the Chairperson of the War Veterans Technical Committee and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Erastus Negonga, in an interview with New Era yesterday. He said all was going smoothly with regard to the government project and that construction of the much-needed houses will start on 14 October. “We’ve completed the verification process looking into the living conditions of these people. It is critical,” he said. The National Housing Enterprise (NHE) was tasked by Cabinet to construct the first 45 two- and three-bedroom houses. They would be constructed in the Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Kavango, Kunene, Caprivi, Khomas, Karas and Otjozondjupa regions. Currently, the NHE is busy with the tendering process in all these regions. Negonga cited the coming rainy season as one major challenge the committee might face but at the same time he was positive that the work would be completed by end of December 2006. “We are quite on track and confident that we will complete this task by the end of the year,” he reiterated. In August this year, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, announced that the government had set aside N$5.8 million to be used for the construction of houses for war veterans. A total of 48 former Robben Island political prisoners, PLAN war veterans and people brutalized internally are going to benefit from the 45 houses that are to be constructed while another two will be renovated. A couple will occupy one of the houses. The 48 people will be the first beneficiaries among those that the Technical Committee on the Investigation of Housing has identified as living in poor conditions. The minister also said that Cabinet had instructed the Trust Fund for Regional Development and Equity Provision to avail N$1.5 million to equip the houses with solar home systems and plastic water catchment tanks. Housing assessment needs for Robben Island PLAN war veterans and internally brutalized people, Ndaitwah said, would continue. Cabinet also resolved that for the next five years, N$2 million will be made available on an annual basis from the Social Housing Programme of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development. In its quest to assess the housing needs of these people, the technical committee in this venture interviewed a total of 191 war veterans, 23 former Robben Island prisoners and 105 internally brutalized persons countrywide. Early this year, the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, John Pandeni, was given a directive by Cabinet to look into the housing conditions of war veterans with specific reference to those who went into exile before 1975 and those who are above 60 years of age. The other categories being considered are the Robben Island prisoners and those who did not go into exile but nevertheless suffered at the hands of the brutal South African occupational forces. During the investigations, the technical committee established that a number of war veterans qualify for the monthly social grant of N$500, and eligible war veterans were processed to receive social grants. This programme, Ndaitwah says, must be seen in light of government’s efforts to address problems faced by ex-combatants and all Namibian citizens.