President Hage Geingob’s recommendation that N$11.3 million be availed from the Development Fund of the Social Security Commission (SSC) was made within the scope of existing laws and for the purpose of training unemployed youth born in exile during Namibia’s liberation struggle.
The Children of the Liberation Struggle (CLS), as the group of jobless young Namibians call themselves, have for years pleaded with government to look into their plight – with some having lost their parents on the battlefronts in pursuit of Namibia’s independence.
In response, Cabinet on July 5 resolved that the plight of this group of youth be addressed and consequently a task team chaired by secretary to Cabinet George Simataa was set up to implement the decision.
Cabinet directed the task team to ensure that the ‘struggle kids’ – many of whom have been camping in various parts of the country in protest against unemployment – first undergo training to ready them for self-employment or jobs on offer.
Towards this end, President Geingob – on the basis of Section 37 (4) (a) and (b) of the Social Security Act – recommended a donation of N$11.3 million from the SSC Development Fund to finance the training of 1 000 members of the CLS.
Section 37 stipulates that the SSC Development Fund can be used for training and employment schemes approved by the president for the benefit of socio-economically disadvantaged persons, who are unemployed.
The Fund also makes provision for bursaries, loans and other forms of financial aid to students enrolled at technical and academic institutions of higher learning.
The CLS group was due to be relocated to Berg Aukas near Grootfontein in Otjozondjupa Region and Farm Du Plessis in Omaheke Region, where they would undergo six-months of training in various trades, including agriculture, mechanics and others.
Due to capacity issues, some members of the group were instead sent to the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology for training in various trades.
In good faith, and in line with the abovementioned provisions of the Social Security Act, President Geingob asked that N$11.3 million be availed so that these unemployed youth can undergo training.
“The money is to cater for training, uniforms, catering services, training equipment, accommodation and an allowance for six months,” Simataa said in a statement yesterday.
For accountability purposes, the SME Bank was contracted to manage the money. Simataa is a chairman of the SME Bank’s board of directors. SSC CEO Milka Mungunda also served on the same board but it could not be verified last night if she still serves that board.
A leaked letter from Geingob to Labour Minister Erkki Nghimtina recommending the release of the said money, went viral on social media platforms yesterday, sparking alarm in some quarters, but Simataa’s statement in response provided a full explanation of what, in truth, appears to be a necessary intervention to address the thorny issue of the CLS.
Speaking to New Era yesterday Simataa said the youth enrolled for training at Berg Aukas and Farm Du Plessis would receive a monthly allowance of N$250 and three meals a day. Those enrolled at NIMT, whose training resumed already on September 1, would receive N$500 a month, as they are not provided meals at the institution.
“Now someone picked up this letter and texted it all over,” Simataa said, in reference to how Geingob’s letter went viral on various Whatsapp groups.
“We think it (the letter) was leaked at SSC at payment time. People were taking pictures of it, but there is nothing unlawful or sinister about it. It complied with all the requirements of the law and it’s for the Children of the Liberation Struggle,” he said.
He said tutors – some of whom will come from Nigeria on a voluntary basis – would be appointed to train members of the CLS.
“The money we asked from SSC will be used for four things. Firstly, for payment for six months for the instructors; secondly, for food and meals and other things for the Children of Liberation Struggle for six months. Thirdly, for tuition fees; and fourthly, for their allowances, which is N$250 000 per month [in total]. I don’t understand what the fuss is about,” Simataa concluded.