Children of Namibian war veterans who have been camping outside the headquarters of the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs say they will not move until their demands are addressed to their satisfaction. They are about 180 of the initial 300 children, now adults.
Today, media reports say since the group first arrived on the Ministry’s doorstep, there has been a split in the committee representing their interests, with many members having returned home after consulting with President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
The group want assistance from government. Ndeutapo Amagulu, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs, is quoted as saying that although the demonstrators have a valid case, the group’s demands are not in the mandate of the newly formed ministry.
The ministry’s mandate only provides for war veterans and their dependents under 18 years of age. Children whose veteran parents are deceased are also assisted under this mandate.
Reports say the chairperson of the new committee, Shinedima Salomon, is of the view that they have no firm commitment from Government despite having received a letter signed by the Minister of Youth assuring them that their problems would be attended to.
“They have told us to go home and wait until we are called. What if they don’t call us back? We won’t move until we get the right answer,” he is quoted sa saying.
Taking a swipe at the previous committee, Salomon said they often consulted amongst themselves, disregarding the interests of the entire group.
The new committee is also not happy that their plight has been referred to the Ministry of Youth instead of being dealt with by Veterans’ Affairs, as they would prefer.
Amagulu says that someone is using the poor children for their own selfish interests to embarrass the Government and even the ruling party.
The group is said to be still put on the pavement around the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs next to the Windhoek railway station, and the hygiene problems associated with their presence are escalating.
Initially, the demonstrators were allowed to use the toilets on the first floor of the ministry building, but when these broke down, they started relieving themselves behind the building.