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Informante has it wrong again

By William Ndeutapo Amagulu
The Ministry of Veterans Affairs would like to respond on the newspaper article titled "Yes we got it- the rich and the powerful cash-in on war vets money", which appeared in the weekly Newspaper Informante of 26 January 2012.

The Ministry hereby states that the story and its headline are aimed at misleading the Namibian nation and veterans of the national liberation struggle in particular and we hereby make the matter of benefits to veterans clear.

Firstly, according to the Veterans Act, Act No.2 of 2008, a veteran means any person who (a); was a member of the liberation forces (b); consistently and persistently participated or engaged in any political, diplomatic or under-ground activity in furtherance of the liberation struggle; or (c) owing to his or her participation in the liberation struggle was convicted, whether in Namibia or elsewhere, of any offence closely connected to the struggle and sentenced to imprisonment; but does not include a person who during the liberation struggle deserted the struggle unless that person subsequently rejoined the struggle.

Secondly, the history of veterans of wars is as old as human civilization itself. Providing compensation and or benefits to veterans of war are not unique to Namibia, it is a worldwide practice and it can be traced as far back as the time of ancient Egypt, Babylon and the Greek City-States.

"Since the era of the Pharaohs in Egypt, some 3000 years Before Christ, the entire army were settled in conquered colonies and plots of land were awarded to solders as recognition based on the extent and character of their service to Egypt;

"In the Ancient Babylon, Soldiers were compelled to serve and were maintained by plunder and tribute exacted from captured cities;

"The Greek Citystates provided medical care and benefits to their veterans of war and provided assistance to the families of veterans killed in battle;

"The Roman Empire solders were a powerful and privileged class. Roman veterans received pensions for themselves and their families, land, employment preferences and exemption from both taxes and compulsory municipal service;

"During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, from 1558 to 1603, British veterans received recognition and benefits through an Act of Parliament passed "An Act for Relief of Soldiers".

This established the principle of local (country level) responsibility for disabled veterans, and was the model British colonists had in mind when they sailed to the new world. (New York State Veterans Museum, Department of Veterans Affairs).

Today, nearly every country provides veterans of their wars with different benefits and the only pre-requisite is that they must have participated in the defense and maintenance of the territorial integrity of their countries.

Namibia is not an exception on this centuries-old practice. " Algeria has established the Ministry of Moudjahidine in 1962 which provides different benefits to their veterans of the war of liberation; " South Africa has just changed the name of its Ministry of Defense to the " Ministry of Defense and Military Veterans";

" The United States of America has veterans of the World War II, Veterans of the Korean War, of the Vietnamese War, the Afghanistan and the Iraqi Wars. All these veterans receive extensive benefits.

Therefore, the Namibia government through its Policies on veterans enacted the Veterans Act and it is through this Act that veterans of the national liberation struggle are benefiting from eight benefits thus far (, Gratuity payment, Funeral Grant, Housing benefit, Psychological Counseling, Education Grants, Project Funding, Medical Assistance and the Monthly Grant).

Out of these eight benefits only two namely, the Gratuity payment (N$ 50 000) and (N$ 20 000) as well as the Funeral Grant (N$ 20 000) are entitlement to all veterans irrespective of their status in society, creed, race or religion, etc. These entitlements are each paid once to and or for a veteran.

The other six benefits, (Housing Benefit, Psychological Counseling, Education Grant, Project Funding, Medical Assistance and the Monthly Grant) are conditional and voluntary and can be applied for by veterans.

The Government Policy on these benefits too, provides that if a veteran is not interested in his or her entitlement as a veteran of the national liberation struggle, she or he can inform the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and if he or she also wishes to donate his or her entitlement to destitute Namibian/s, this can be arranged as well.

Therefore, it is with great disgust that the Informante Newspaper has collected and compiled a piece of pathetic reporting headlined: "Yes we got itthe rich and the powerful cash in on war vets money". The author of the story called the Ministry to ask some of the issues raised but chose to twist facts and to remain sensational.

The statement by the Informante Newspaper that Politicians and senior civil servants are not supposed to receive these benefits has no basis and is intended to mislead both the general public and veterans in particular. This statement is politically motivated and is not based on facts.

A further false allegation made by the Weekly Informante Newspaper is that the once-off gratuity payment was paid only to the Ruling Party politicians. The newspaper for reasons known only to it has purposefully left out beneficiaries from the opposition parties, and other individuals.

The Newspaper further falsely states that the only beneficiaries of the lump-sum payouts are those that were in exile. The war of national liberation was fought from three fronts, the military, political and diplomatic fronts. It is therefore not true that Namibians who fought politically from within are not veterans of the national liberation struggle. They too are recipients of these benefits.

Informante further falsely states that the founding members of the liberation struggle and veterans from 1959 to 1987 were paid the N$ 50 000-00.

The Veterans Board, which administers the Veterans Fund for the Ministry of Veterans Affairs has only paid that amount to the veterans from 1959 to 1980. Therefore it is not true that Informante has it on good grounds.

It is further not correct that the Namibian Ambassador to Russia has been paid wrongly N$ 100 000-00. We have verified with his bank and have established that the Amabdador's once-off gratuity payment (lump sum) has indeed been paid at the beginning of 2011. The Ambassador however had complained that his once-off gratuity payment was not made in full.

The Government of Namibia through the Ministry of Veterans Affairs will pay veterans who joined the struggle between 1959 to 1987 an amount of N$ 50 000 in gratuity payment and N$ 20 000 is entitled to veterans who joined the struggle for national liberation during 1988 and 1989.

It is our wish that this piece of remedial information can help with balanced and factual reporting in the future on the topics raised above.





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