A group of eleven women camping at Ndilimani farm explained they are too old to go to school and that they cannot desert their families as their absence would have a detrimental effect on them and other dependants.
They say they have not turned down a Cabinet recommendation to enable them to undergo training at Berg Aukas Camp and at Farm Du Plessis in the Omaheke Region merely to cause problems – but that they have households to take care of.
They said they were taken against their will at gunpoint by Swapo PLAN fighters into Angola from various schools in the north during the 1980s, when they were attending school.
Apart from complaining that they are getting old they accused the government of having failed to put them in formal schools when they returned from exile in 1990 – and that they are now being forced to undertake training when they have lost the appetite to go to school and have families to look after.
Swapo’s legal representative Dirk Conradie said they are waiting for the party’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba to return to the country and decide on the way forward regarding the ‘struggle kids’’ stay at the Swapo farm after they were requested to leave on Tuesday.
Conradie, who visited the group at the farm yesterday morning to talk with them, told New Era that currently there is no agreement on whether they will stay or not until the return of the Swapo secretary general.
Amongst others, Conradie said, they discussed looking at other ways of securing employment such as companies that get government tenders giving them work since government positions were frozen. He said the ‘kids’ can also organise themselves and tender for some government projects.
He also pointed out that the group promised to behave following recent confrontations with the police and members of the public during their blocking public roads.
Group leader Jerry Hamukwaya apologized for their past misbehaviour and promised it will not happen again. He said they are waiting to hear from Conradie after he engages Swapo Party that owns Ndilimani farm.
The women who said they are too old to be trained are between the ages 37 and 42. They said they want jobs instead of training.
Rachel Penda, 41, said she got tired of waiting for employment since she was initially registered for a job in 1998.
Penda is one of the 11 women who said they got tired of waiting for employment while at home – but at the same time don’t qualify as war veterans.
These women have grade 7 to 12 school-leaving certificates while some undertook additional training such as tailoring and doing a diploma in tourism.
Penda said that since she registered for possible employment 18 years ago she has never been called up for any job. She had applied for various government jobs such as in the police, military and cleaning, but has not been successful.
Penda said she became frustrated with waiting at home where she sold mahangu to support her children and then decided to join the group camping in Windhoek. With no rainfall this year and only surviving on subsistence farming she decided to come to camp in Windhoek with hopes for a job.
The technical committee chaired by Secretary to Cabinet George Simataa said it would recommend that all children of the liberation struggle undergo training in various technical fields in order to equip them with technical knowledge and skills so that they can become employable – as well as employ themselves in various fields such as plumbing, agriculture, auto mechanics and electrical installation.
During the planned training trainees will receive free meals, accommodation and a monthly allowance, and upon completion of training the trainees will be offered employment opportunities in government and state-owned enterprises.
“I can’t go to Berg Aukas. I’m 41 and I have six children. What will I go do at Berg Aukas? My mother is old and blind and needs my help, hence my asking for a job,” explained Penda.
Penda said she was among young children who were taken into Angola by PLAN fighters – when she was 11 years old – from a school at Ongenga in Ohangwena Region during 1986. She was repatriated in 1990 from Zambia while she was in Grade 6. However, she said, when she came back to Namibia she was sent back to Grade 4 because she did not know Oshiwambo.
Penda dropped out of school in Grade 9 when she fell pregnant with her firstborn in 1994. Her firstborn has since passed Grade 12 with 25 points and is struggling to get a job as well – and she can’t afford to pay for his university fees.
“I want a job, not one that requires me to have any qualification but one where I can use my hands such as cleaning,” said Penda.
“Our families don’t values us, we are insulted in front of our children and we are tired. We want jobs,” said another ‘struggle kid’.
Paulina Mathias has a certificate in tailoring and organization and management and also refuses to go to Berg Aukas, as she feels she will repeat what she has been taught already.
“Plus, I am getting old. I have my own house and children. I didn’t come here for school but work,” said Mathias.
She said that after independence the government said they (‘struggke kids’) would attend schools at Dobra, Tsandi, Oshigambo and Odibo.
“We didn’t attend those schools – our parents and guardians were called to come get us shortly after being enrolled. And only now they want us to go to school.”
The women urged the government to treat the group like those who had previously camped and then got jobs.
The youngest among the women is Loide Ngwedha Pea, 37, who has an advanced diploma in tourism from Bulawayo Commercial Training Institute. Pea said she has a letter that shows her qualification is accredited by the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA).
“I have applied for government positions as advertised in newspapers but there was never a day when I was called for a job interview. I mean you can’t even say I failed the interview because I was never called.”