Deputy PM Retaliates to Accusations by Fellow MPs

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila hit back at critics on Wednesday afternoon regarding accusations by fellow MPs recently about her role in the San Development Programme. Amathila came under heavy criticism last week from opposition members who accused her of seeking publicity with the San Programme and keeping the programme a secret. The deputy prime minister said the accusations against her were baseless, destructive, misleading, opportunistic and shameful. “It shows that some of the parliamentarians couldn’t care less as elected representatives of the people for the suffering of the electorate and only pay lip service.” She said the San Development Programme is no secret. It is a government programme paid for by the taxpayers and is not her private programme. “The initiatives and innovations are mine, and that is because I have worked all my life for the needy in communities.” She explained that the San Development Programme was approved by cabinet in November 2005 and an ad hoc Cabinet Committee was set up under her office, which is being chaired by herself and deputized by the Minister of Environment and Tourism. Amathila also revealed that the Ministry of Finance had allocated N$300ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000. The Deputy PM is working with senior officials from the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, ministry of Lands and Resettlement, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry on the San project. Amathila said that since then the government had started to walk the talk and a number of programmes such as be-keeping and honey-production, scholarships for learners, provision of draught animals and seeds, national youth service scheme, donations, employment and game reserves have been put in motion. Twelve San persons from six regions received training with instructors drawn from Kenya and with the financial support from the Icelandic Embassy. Four learners from the Omaheke, Caprivi and Otjozondjupa regions received scholarships from Nampower and the Michelle McLean Children’s Trust. Amathila also revealed that a number of draught animals were already handed over to the San people in the Caprivi and Omaheke regions. These included more than 70 donkeys in Caprivi and more than 10 heifers in the Omaheke. She added that the names of 13 San youths were sent to the Ministry of Youth, national Service, Sport and Culture recently and the ministry is very eager to recruit some San youth. “In addition, my office facilitated the employment of four san people at Tsumeb Auto Tech Panel after the completion of their training at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre.” Amathila urged all government ministries, regional, local councils and the private sector to make sure they make all efforts to employ San-speaking Namibians. Contributing to the debate on the plight of the San, Swapo MP Royal Kxao /Ui/o/oo claimed that a number of companies use the minority San community to obtain permits and other concessionary rights like fishing quotas but, after obtaining those rights, the San people are left in the cold. “That is why the minority San people’s status is still related to abject poverty and other deplorable conditions.” He called on parliament to take a look at these companies and maybe bring them to book so that they meet the government half-way and improve the living conditions of the minority communities. He advised his senior colleagues in parliament that when dealing with minority groups such as the San and Ovahimba, they must appreciate that these people are uneducated and illiterate.