Seeking for a dignified reception and dignified durable welfare
‘You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree’
By Nkrumah Mushelenga
Comrades and compatriots, the term welfare in this case, refers to basic needs which are empirically fundamental to the happiness of the Ex-PLAN veterans’ socio-economic, psychological and political well-being such as; employment, health, education and inclusive land resettlement programme for all veterans of the liberation struggle.
History has it that Namibia’s national liberation struggle, like any other decolonisation struggles in Africa, was characterised by house arrests, brutality, killing of innocent men and women, imprisonment, detention, torture, humiliation and cultural degradation.
Once more, the war for national liberation was fought from three fronts namely; politics, diplomatic and indeed the military wing. War in terms of our liberation struggle, was an extension of politics.
Although the welfare system is part of Chapter 3 Articles 5, 6, 10 read with Chapter 11 Article 95 (F), (G), the Cabinet Decision (No.3rd/25.03.14/004) payout has not been implemented for seven years by portfolio Cabinet ministers and no minister has been held accountable as to why such a delay.
The Prime Minister, you are in terms of Article 36, the leader of government business in parliament, and your duty among others is to coordinate the work of the Cabinet and most importantly, advise and assist the President in the execution of functions of government. What went wrong comrade Prime Minister? Why did you not advise or assist the President to give an executive order to all portfolio ministers to execute the payment as per Cabinet directive?
Hon. Prime Minister, it is on record that membership data supplied from GIPF, comprised of 8 731 individual member records consisting of 5 543 males with a total pensionable salary bill of N$369 190 892 and 3188 females with total pensionable salary bill of N$242 179 607.
We commend offices, ministries, agencies and other institutions for honouring the Cabinet directive to register ex-PLAN veterans for ‘Buyback pension for Ex-PLAN combatant veterans’ payment’.
According to the GIPF latest statistics there are 8 731 registered ex-PLAN veterans and that each veteran is receiving a buyback pension of an amount of N$400.000 with a total budget of N$3.5 billion.
“Each ministry is expected to make budgetary provision for the payment of the pension buyback for all their employees who are ex-PLAN combatant veterans”.
“Ministries, offices, agencies and other institutions were given an attachment containing the Executive Summary with cost implications as presented by GIPF for perusal and for budgeting purposes”.
The Right Hon. Prime Minister, we are ready to provide your office with copies of the GIPF recommendations, if not available in the Cabinet chamber.
As the affected veterans’ community, we are very disappointed by the Right Hon. Prime Minister’s for not directing ministries to pay the 15 years’ buyback pension due to ex-PLAN combatant veterans.
We see your silence as a display of non-recognition and non-appreciation of those whose blood, tears and sweat waters our freedom. It is, and remains a national political and social economic tragedy in the post-colonial Namibia. It has diluted the national egotism phrase ‘Namibia land of the brave’. The question is who are the liberation heroes and heroines and where are they?
Why are the ex-PLAN veterans being denied what is legitimately due to them? Why are the generals silent on this issue? What about the social economic plight of the sons and daughters of the soil whose blood, tears and sweat waters our freedom? Who else can sympathise with our just course, the legacy of the liberation struggle and the sequences of promoting the welfare of the most marginalised veteran communities?
We consider the delaying strategy deployed by the ministers including the silence on the part of the generals, as an unpatriotic move to blemish the veterans’ heroic liberation struggle legacy. Your silence does not inspire us, but it is rather promoting division between and among members of the public and veteran communities.
WELFARE FOR VETERANS
Why welfare for veterans? Why ex-PLAN combatants pension payout? Why is it other veterans do not qualify for these benefits?
These are some of the unanswered questions from members of the public.
Compatriots, each social structure is governed by an Act of Parliament or community domestic policy. SWAPO party and SWAPO government have structured programmes and action plans. Action plans are harmonised with annual budgets and a timeframe as to when and how to utilise them for the benefits of all veterans of the liberation struggle of Namibia.
In line with the Veterans Act 2 of 2008, a veteran is a person who was;
A member of the liberation struggle,
Has consistently participated or engaged in
Underground activity in furtherance of,
The liberation struggle or,
Owing to his or her participation in the liberation struggle was,
Convicted whether in Namibia or elsewhere.
This definition does not include persons who during the war deserted the liberation struggle waged in Namibia and other countries by the liberation forces against the colonial forces and which struggle resulted in the attainment of the independence of Namibia on 21st March 1990.
For accountability, transparency and coordination purposes, the following oversight bodies were established during the liberation struggle;
Central committee and
The objective was to liberate Namibia from the yoke of colonialism and establish a scientific socialist government founded upon the will and participation of the Namibian people. Although the objective was one, PLAN combatant veterans were living under the shadow of death 24hrs around the clock. They closed many rivers of blood and mountainous areas, as a prize to attain our national independence.
THE DEMOBILISATION PROCESS
The term demobilisation means a process that considerably reduces the number of personnel in the liberation armed forces. The process usually entails the release of combatants from military obligations to a civilian life.
For coordination purposes, in Zimbabwe for example, a National Rehabilitation Centre was established in Ruwa in 1981 to rehabilitate disabled ex-combatants. According to information from a research document, the inspiration for setting up a rehabilitation institute was suggested to the government by the legislative body of the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (OXFAM), A British charity, and Horticultural therapy, which was to assist by providing agricultural projects for the disabled veterans.
The whole programme according to the finding was aimed at preparing disabled ex-combatants for education and work. The central agenda was to incorporate ex-war veterans in nearly all sectors of the economy so that they would become industrious and self-reliant. The research concluded that, if the government had effectively complimented OXFAM efforts, the disabled ex-combatants would not have landed into abject poverty.
The research also discovered that ‘lack of a broad reintegration method culminated in the futile reintegration of the demolished members who re-registered under the Demobilisation Programme of 1981. Comrade President Dr. Hage Geingob and comrade Prime Minister, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, ‘history is the best judge whose verdict cannot be ignored’.
* Nkrumah Mushelenga is a Rt. Commissioner for Refugees, former Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association National Coordinator, and the founder and trustee of Peter Nanyemba ex-PLAN Combatant Veterans Trust (p.n.p.c.v. t.)