Information vacuum is tantamount to veterans’ marginalisation

‘Justice delayed is justice denied’

By Nkrumah Mushelenga

By the way, what is buyback and what is pension? How is Cabinet composed – its duties and functions? What are the functions of the Prime Minister and of the secretary to Cabinet? Based on the principles of delegations of responsibilities, inclusivity, transparency and accountability, permit me to attempt to answer the above informative questions.

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, buyback (noun) means ‘when a business or person sells something, especially shares (equal parts of its ownership) and then buys them again according to a fixed agreement’.

Meanwhile, the same dictionary defines pension (noun) as ‘a sum of money paid regularly by the government or a private company to persons who do not work anymore because they are too old or they have become ill’.

Cabinet Composition: According to Article 35 of the Constitution of Namibia, Cabinet consists of the President, the Prime Minister and such other ministers as the President may appoint from the members of the National Assembly, including members nominated under Article 46 (1) (b).

Before assuming office, a minister or deputy minister shall make and subscribe to an oath or solemn affirmation before the President or a person designated by the President for this purpose, in the terms as set out in Schedule 2 hereof.

Cabinet duties and functions to;

direct, coordinate and supervise the activities of ministries and Government departments including parastatal enterprises;

review and advise the President and the National Assembly on the desirability and wisdom of any prevailing subordinate registration, regulations or orders pertaining to such parastatals;

formulate, explain and assess for the National Assembly the budget of the State and its economic development plan and to report to the National Assembly thereon;

carry out such other functions as are assigned to them by law or are incidental to such assignment just to mention a few.

Functions of the Prime Minister;

a leader of Government business in Parliament,

coordinates the work of Cabinet and,

advises and assists the President in the execution of the functions of Government.

Secretary to Cabinet:

According to Article 43, the Secretary to Cabinet is appointed by the President to among others perform such functions as may be determined by law and as assigned to the secretary by the President or the Prime Minister. Most importantly, the Cabinet Secretary serves as a depository of records, minutes and related documents of the Cabinet.

While commending the Cabinet and the Swapo party government, we (war veterans) are equally concerned over the delaying of the payment of what is legitimately due to us as per Cabinet decision No. 3rd/25.03.14/004. Comrade President, remember that justice delayed is tantamount to justice denied.

It has been seven years ago since Cabinet, in its revised decision (No. 3rd/25.03.14/004) approved in principle, that 15 years buyback pension benefit for retirement be worked out by experts from GIPF for a total number of 6 073 ex-PLAN veterans currently under employment in various offices, ministries, agencies and other institutions.

According to the Cabinet directive each ministry and agency was expected to make budgetary provision for payment of buyback pension for all their employees who are ex-PLAN war veterans of the liberation struggle.

While commending the Cabinet decision as a step in the right direction, it is equally regrettable that after seven years of decision 3rd /25.03.14/004, no buyback pension has been paid to retired war veterans. This is despite Cabinet directive to each ministry to make budgetary provision for the payment upon retirement.

Comrade President of the Republic, according to Article 39 of the Constitution of this country, you are constitutionally obliged to terminate the appointment of any member of Cabinet, if the National Assembly by a majority of all its members resolves that it has no confidence in that member.

Your Excellency, you and your predecessors, have been leading by example. By the way, history has it that Comrade President and your predecessors know the price we paid together in blood, tears, sweat and time, in order to bring national political independence, yet our houses continue to be repossessed by banks and our children’s education opportunity is in limbo.

What was the rationale of Cabinet decision 3rd /25.03.14/004? Since the subject is specifically on the buyback pension for ex-plan veterans, of the liberation struggle, we are requesting the President of Swapo and of the Republic, in your capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force and Cabinet Chairman, to direct Cabinet ministers to pay what is legitimately due to retired ex-PLAN war veterans within a clearly specified deadline period.

Equally, we applaud the government for the efforts to improve veteran’s livelihoods. But disagree with the manner in which the affairs of veterans of the liberation struggle of Namibia are managed at the Veterans’ Affairs department. We appeal to the office of the President, office of the Swapo secretary-general, office of the former president and office of the Founding President to facilitate and convene a veterans’ introspection two-day meeting. The purpose is to identify gaps and analytically eliminate them. Cde President and secretary-general, “gaps unrecognised cannot be evaluated, and gaps unevaluated cannot be eliminated”. (Dr. John Tibane).

*Nkrumah Mushelenga is a Rt. Commissioner for Refugees, former Namibia National Veterans Association National Coordinator and the founder of Peter Nanyemba ex-PLAN Combatant Veterans Trust