War veterans want better benefits

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-A group of war veterans, who call themselves Namibian Liberation War Pioneers, want government to consider them for land resettlement, allocation fishing quotas and exploration processing licenses (EPLs) for oil and mining exploration.

The war veterans also want government to increase their fixed monthly grants of N$2,200 for those who receive less than N$36,000 per year, are disabled or unemployed.

Currently there is also a grant for people who were jailed on Robben Island, and others who served as combatants in exile in some cases receive up to N$6,000 a month.
They also want to benefit from the mass-housing programme and receive a lump sum of N$500,000 – equivalent to what high-ranking political and military veterans receive.

The group further pressed government to make funds available so that they could re-visit their former military operational areas in Angola as well Zambia.
These issues were raised when war veterans from various regions held a meeting with President Hage Geingob at State House on Wednesday.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Eloby Amundaba from Ongwediva said they also want heroes’ acres built in every region.

Amundaba said they were promised houses, but the rate at which they received the houses meant most of them were not likely to benefit during their lifetime.

He reminded people, that when they returned to Namibia at Independence, they had to start their economic lives from scratch.

“We are disappointed by the fact that they only calculate our personal years of service from the time some started working within the country, and government does not consider the other years when we served as soldiers during the liberation struggle,” Amundaba remarked.

He said that some of their group members had died and left their families to wallow in extreme poverty and that is what was likely to happen to their families.

He further stated many war veterans applied for the N$200,000 grant to start their own income generating projects but the Ministry of Veterans Affairs had reduced the amount to N$180,000 or N$170,000.

He explained that unscrupulous suppliers had taken their money and the Veteran Affairs Ministry only told them to look for lawyers to recover this money.

The ministry gave their money to suppliers before the suppliers delivered the material so that they could start their businesses.

“That is serious mismanagement, if it is not corruption. The money never reached us because it was between the ministry and suppliers that officers in the ministry may have an interest in, which is something that needs to be urgently investigated,” they said.

The group also requested the government to consult them and use their expertise and experience in some of the development projects and programmes.

Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs Hilma Nicanor, who was present at the meeting, said the gathering was quite good and the veterans just wanted the opportunity to talk to their own leaders.

“The president said that Cabinet would look further into the matter and interrogate some of the concerns raised by the veterans and see what could be done.

“As the Ministry of Veterans Affairs we will be more than happy to look into whatever directives the Cabinet comes up with or directives that come from the head of state, as it is our mandate to look in the plight of the veterans,” Nicanor said.

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