SWAPO rejects demands

Years after both ex-Plan and the former SWA troops were compensated by government through funds being made available by South Africa, a few discontented ex-Plan combatants have resurrected claims for compensation.

A committee was set up to speed up what they called “the unresolved issue of the welfare of ex-combatants and the recognition of their services before independence.”

The ex-combatants feel they should be given monetary and material rewards such as houses, land or farms, income-generating projects or a pension among other things that would improve their standards of living. Amongst their claims are, inter alia,: a lump sum of N$500 000 per soldier or N$31 000 multiplied by the years each served outside the country in the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan); that all ex-combatants and their children receive free education and free medical services, all should work until the age of 70 years and receive a monthly remuneration of N$8 000 each.

Other resolutions by the group are that all war veterans should be allocated fishing quotas and mining concessions; that they expect Government to protect all war veterans from unfair competition in business; that they be appointed to senior or junior positions; that Government must also set up an ex-combatant fund and compel/obligate all parastatals and business communities to make contributions to it; and a budget from Government.

Founder President and SWAPO Party leader, Dr. Sam Nujoma, however, made short shrift of their plans when he condemned in the strongest terms and rejected as unconstitutional what he says are unrealistic demands being made by the committee of former combatants.

“I met the group this morning (last Friday) and told them in clear terms that their demands are unconstitutional, illegal and therefore are condemned and rejected in the strongest terms because they are outside the Swapo Party Constitution and that of the Republic of Namibia,” said Nujoma and dismissed the group as being opportunistic.

Nujoma further exhorted them to follow the structures of the Swapo Party Constitution and called upon all sections, branches and districts of the ruling party to “ensure that these misguided fanatics . . . are not allowed to organise any meeting or demonstrations under the name of the Swapo Party.

“You are also called upon to sensitise all Swapo structures to counter whatever this group is planning to do and that Swapo members disassociate themselves from these misguided elements . . .,” Nujoma instructed.

Nujoma further felt that the demands were “unrealistic” as they would cost the state billions of dollars and ultimately lead the country to bankruptcy. The total financial implications amount to more than N$6 billion, more than 50 percent of the country’s annual budget.

Nujoma reiterated that “nobody was promised compensation or other payment after the war”, adding that government had done much for the ex-combatants by integrating 8777 former fighters into the Public Service and State-Owned Enterprises.

Cabinet also resolved that all ex-combatants over 55 would be enrolled in the War Veterans Fund, currently being administered by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

The resolutions by the ex-combatants were passed at a consultative meeting of more than 2 000 members that was held on July 15 at Greenwell Matongo Community Hall in Katutura.

The group indicated that they would now present the case to President Pohamba, adding that the ex-combatants would march in protest, should their case not be solved by September.

July 2006
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