WINDHOEK – A group of about 100 children of the liberation struggle yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration demanding that the government should register them as dependants of war veterans under the Ministry of Veterans Affairs.
Unlike other previous demonstrations, this time around the group comprised mostly those who are employed and were marching in solidarity with the unemployed ones. The group, under police escort, marched from Katutura youth
complex into town where they gathered at the Ministry of Veterans Affairs offices. They read their demands before they handed the petition to the Veterans Affairs Deputy Minister Hilma Nicanor.
The group showed signs of maturity, as no chaos was observed during the march.
The group, whose petition was read by their spokesperson Shakapa Paulus, requested on behalf of all children of the liberation struggle in Namibia, also referred to as ‘struggle kids’, that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs make some amendments to the Veterans Act No. 2 of 2008, and Act No. 3 of 2013.
This is the second attempt by the children of the liberation struggle to petition for changes to certain parts of the Veterans Act which they view as unconstitutional.
In 2013, the Namibian Exile Kids Association (Neka) threatened to sue government after former veterans minister Nickey Iyambo said that the Veterans Amendment Act of 2013 does not include children of the liberation struggle and those veterans who died before being recognised as such.
Iyambo at the time clarified matters after it emerged that the amendment will only cater for dependants of veterans who died after having been recognised.
Iyambo had said by “dependants”, the Act refers to those children who are under the age of 18 and are under guardianship.
However, the demonstrating group yesterday felt the definition of veterans in Act No. 2 of 2008 has fully recognised them as the dependants of war veterans. Those recognised by the Veterans Affairs Act are entitled to benefit from the monthly financial assistance of N$2,200, plus other benefits of one-off grants, scholarships and medical care.
“The definition of the Act No. 2 of 2008 has fully given us the mandate to be recognised and registered as dependants of both the living and deceased veterans of the liberation struggle. They all went into exile for one aim and that was to liberate the country. We are the eyes and ears of our parents, the veterans, and we can never allow that to happen,” Paulus said.
They say instead of recognising them, the government pushed them to the “wrong” ministry of youth which “created a lot of suffering in the lives of children of the liberation struggle and this pain gives birth to camping and demonstrations”.
They demanded that the government responds to their petition within 39 working days as of yesterday, which will be exactly on June 25.
They threatened to camp at the ministry if they don’t get a positive response within the 39 days.
Nicanor accepted the petition and thanked the group for their orderly manner, promising to give them feedback as soon the relevant authorities study and analyse their petition.