“Paying 11,000 veterans will take 40 years”

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THE government paying less than 280 veterans a year to start their economic projects means it will take 40 years to complete this exercise.

That’s according to group spokesman Sossy Shimanya, who was speaking at a meeting with ombudsman Basilius Dyakugha in Ongwediva on Friday to voice their concerns.

He said the veterans had repeatedly raised their concerns with Defense Minister Frans Kapofi, but their plight had fallen on deaf ears.

“The payment of 276 veterans per fiscal year is unacceptable because at this rate it would take over 40 years to complete the payment of approximately 11,000 veterans who are eligible for these funds.

“We also want money for projects to be hereditary. It is unfair to have given money to some veterans for their projects, while some of us have been excluded.

“Therefore, public institutions are expected to provide services to citizens in a fair and equitable manner,” Shimanya said.

Members of the group with pending projects are unhappy with the decision by the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to reduce the amount of projects from N$200,000 to N$170,000.

Veterans say they have waited too long and hoped the department would increase funding.

Shimanya said the majority of veterans have been suffering for 32 years since independence, while some are getting old, sick or living in poverty.

“Comrades dwindle [sic] without receiving the benefits to which they are entitled, leaving their children with nothing to live on in the form of an inheritance. The majority of veterans who were out of the country did not receive their project money.

“The Ministry of Defense is failing to budget the dead to grant them state funerals. Veterans live in poverty without proper shelter due to the fact that the resettlement part of United Nations (UN) Resolution 435 of 1978 has not been implemented since the return of Namibian refugees in 1989,” did he declare.

The veterans therefore asked Dyakugha to intervene in this case and find an amicable solution.

“Now that the government has recognized veterans, it is important that these people are also taken care of. When people are poor and you give them money, that doesn’t cure their poverty, money doesn’t cure poverty. To earn money, you must first fight against poverty.

“So for you to have projects, you have to have money, and I agree with you that you need money for projects,” Dyakugha said.

He said he would try to engage with the line ministry to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, Kapofi told the Namibian Sun this week that the government is for all citizens, not just veterans.

He said the government is ready to meet the needs of veterans, but does not have the financial resources to do so immediately.

“I told them that we only distribute what we have. If the government finds resources to fund these projects, we are ready to pay, but we don’t have the money,” Kapofi reportedly said.

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