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Seeking for national consensus on struggle kids

By Nkrumah Mushelenga
So much negative has been said and continues to be said about the children of the liberation struggle, while little is being said about the patriotic and national noble tasks of which their biological fathers and mothers have voluntarily scarified their youth times, shed their blood and indeed lost their lives for the liberation of mother land Namibia.

As a product of the then protracted political and the armed liberation struggle, and the then member of PLAN, the military wing of SWAPO of Namibia, I have decided to add my voice to those of some of the comrades and non-comrades who, despite of the much negative talks and finger pointing about the deteriorating social economic situation of the children of the liberation struggle, have decided to address issues of national concerns, the bread and butter of the children of the liberation struggle.

Mr Phil ya Nangolo of the human rights organisation, NamRights is of the opinion that the group maybe receiving support and encouragement from "outside forces." Quoted in the Windhoek Observer dated 14 March 2013, Ya Nangolo, expressed his concern that there is "a far-reaching hand in all of this, especially among those at Outapi in the Omusati Region"

First of all, it is assumed that the role of any human right organisation is to first of all, provide humanitarian related services, and secondary to educate citizenry about their constitutional rights and not to issue hatred, ambiguity and inflammatory statement. For example, what does he mean by "a far-reaching hand in all of this, especially among those at Outapi in the Omusati Region"?

In fact, if there is any body to be blamed for the marginalisation of the children of the liberation struggle, then it should be all the Namibians, and those who are entrusted with the amendment of the law. To me there is a need to either amend Article 141 to include those who were the captain of industries or holding of offices in exile during the liberation struggle.

We had comrades who were heading our administration in exile, commanding the war for the liberation struggle, working as nurses, medical doctors, labour officers, teachers and you name them. Why these appointments were not inclusive? The current state of affairs does not need pointing fingers, but rather a precautious and inclusive approach.

Comrade, Dr Andrew Niikondo, the Vice -Rector for Academic Affairs and Research at the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) and a former PLAN fighter, was quoted in the New Era Newspaper dated 25 March 2013, as having said that "Struggle Kids are special".

He articulated the actual liberation struggle situation by being specific on the where about of the bodies of some of the biological parents of these children. The same sentiment was recently expressed by General Martin Shali during his educational interactions with the born free on his experience in the liberation struggle at the Party National Head Quarters.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Comrade Nicky Iiyambo, through one on one NBC TV programme, said that the "struggle kid's are not special category of people" " Not as far as I am concerned" adding that he has sympathy for those children, and that his sympathy equally extends to other children of this country, who were born inside Namibia." In fact, one wonders, why Dr. Nicky Iiyambo first, in his capacity as the Minister for Veterans Affairs, as a grandfather, a veterans of the liberation struggle and a medical doctor who has spent much of his time at the battle field treating wounded Plan fighters, to be the first person to justify the reasons why they should not be in a special category. He has administered the treatment of the wounded comrades, facilitated the memorial and burial services of the majority of those who passed on either at the battlefield or in SWAPO settlements.

Well, the problem seems to be that it is left upon individuals to define what is meant by special category. "Their blood waters our freedom" Comrade, Dr Niikondo is of the strong views, that had the children of veterans of the liberation struggle been "socialised properly" in their new environments and their plight addressed at independence, the current situation would not have developed. He spoke about the differences in terms of social economic needs of the exile children as compared to those who were born in the country.

This is a non-biased and accurate analysis of the past, which in actual fact serves as a clarion call to all of us, particularly those in national leadership positions to avoid repetition or continuation of the same mistake.

Defence Minister Nahas Angula, is of the opinion that the 'plight of the group should be looked at in a humane manner, given their historical background" He strongly feels that the children of exile were brought up in encampment situation where the living conditions were based on "survival and collective socialisation." He then described the situation as "human and social problems" This, in my view, is a reconciliatory statement. Comrade Angula described the situation as "human and social problems."

Let us look at Chapter 11 ,Article 95,"Promotion of the welfare of the people" " The State, through Parliament, is obliged to actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting, inter alia, policies aimed at enactment of legislation to ensure equality of opportunity for women, to enable them to participate fully in all spheres of Namibian society; in particular, and to ensure the implementation of the principle of non-discrimination"

I am just reminding my SWAPO PARTY comrades in Parliament, to initiate inclusive pieces of legislation because from the statistic point of view, the majority of the children of the liberation struggle are women.

By the way, where are the voices of the opposition parties and the general public? We are talking about national issues here, as such we can only reach consensus if and when all of us take part in this very important national debate. First of all, the children of the liberation struggle are either your grand children or your children.

Secondly, the struggle to which the children are being attributed is the struggle for which you directly or indirectly, outside or inside the country, have sacrificed either materially, physically or, spiritually up to the attainment of our national independence 23 years ago.

Why this diminishing confidence, when the nation needs your relentless support? Truth never hides and that "history is the best judge whose verdict cannot be ignored". To clarify my point, let me quote the Namibian and the AU Anthem; "Namibia land of the brave Freedom fight we have won Glory to their bravery Whose blood waters our freedom" AU

"Let us all unite and celebrate together The victories won for our liberation Let us dedicate ourselves to rise together To defend our liberty and unity"

I am trying to demonstrate to those who do not see the need to classify these children as a special group that we are talking about the children of those we together through the national Anthem and indeed the African Union Anthem have declared them as our national heroes and heroines, the brave sons and daughters of this great nation, those whose blood waters our freedom. How do one illegitimate what is already legitimized at national level? One cannot be a hero or heroine and a non-hero at the same time. This simply means that it has been and it remains impossible to have light and darkness in the same room at the same time. One either sings our national anthem with pride or, with regret.

We all embrace braveness, we all feel proud of being part of those who fearlessly sacrificed for the liberation of this country. Why are we not confronting the manageable social economic issues being experienced by the children of the liberation struggle with strategies based on national consensus approaches, as we did during the liberation struggle?

"All members of the National Assembly are obliged through Article 45to be representative of all the people and to perform their duties be guided by the objectives of this Constitution, by the public interest and by their conscience" "Embrace unity." Be representative of all people as provided for in the Constitution, otherwise, we will be defeated by the forces of poverty, hunger and disease. We need to embrace unity to win the battle for the liberation or emancipation of our god given natural economic resources.

Let me again look at Article 141 of the Constitution, "Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, any person holding office under any law in force on the date of independence shall continue to hold such office unless and until he or she resigns or is retired, transferred or removed from office in accordance with law"

Is this not a double standard, or a neo-discrimination against freedom fighters? It is a fact that by then, there were no many freedom fighters employed except Cabinet ministers. The question is: who were intended to benefit from this article? Is this not a violation of Article 10 of the Constitution of this country? By the way, the issue is not whether these young heroes and heroines are not a special category, but rather whether we do recognise the voluntary and sacrifices which their biological fathers and mothers made during the liberation struggle. And if we do, what is the problem? And what is the remedy to this situation?

"History is the best judge whose verdict cannot be ignored" In the 1970's when we the dynamic and active Namibian youth left for exile to join the liberation struggle led by the might SWAPO PARTY, upon arrival in exile, we were all called "terrorists, grasshoppers, ovali vomwiidi, Ovashiituki voyivada by the colonial regime. Fortunately, truth never hides.

What I am trying to say is that, those who were taught during the liberation struggle, how to hate and destroy the aims and objectives of struggle, are still amidst us and they are hard at work to ensure that the struggle for economic independence is much bitter and protracted and that confidence among all revolutionary cadres is destroyed through finger pointing and blackmailing of one another. Well, the onus is on our us as SWAPO members to embrace the concept of constructive criticism as provided for in the SWAPO Party Constitution.

It is imperative to note that, although there are lots of distortions of the facts on the ground and name calling by those who want to personalise the issue of the children of the liberation struggle at the expense of the reality, I am glad to see that the debate on the state of affairs of the children of struggle, is gaining momentum at national level. I therefore in conclusion and for the sake of national consensus, wish to suggest the followings action steps;

National consensus short and long terms actions steps;

Government should encourage national constituencies based debate, the outcome of which will culminate into the following implementable national consensus based strategies and actions steps. Apart from constituencies' debate approach, NBC TV and Radio should also be encouraged to introduce a panel discussion programme where people with special expertise from various political background and academics are drawn to take part in the debate on issues of national concerns.

1. Constituency-based registration system inclusive of all youth in each constituency for accurate database and planning purposes

2. Constituency's needs assessment profiling system to enable the system to determine the social economic potential of each constituency and the types of projects available in each area.

3. Targeted land distribution system to ensure that those who are in need of land as a primary need are considered a special category as opposed to those whose needs are education or employment

4. Article 95 promotion of welfare, to assess ourselves as to whether policies being adopted and legislations are inclusive and ensure equality of all women including the children (women) from exile.

5. Cabinet decisions on time frame, there is a need for a deadline, when the project starts and ends and what are the anticipated internal and external factors and how best to avoid them.

6. Bank of Namibia and the National Planning Commission, NPC, should play a key role on the promotion of welfare. After reaching national consensus, we need financial support and the only national trusted institutions that can do so, are the Bank of Namibia and the National Planning Commission, GIPF and Social Security Commission, hence, the need to bring them on board.

7. Avoid third middle men or women, and the commercial banks, because they inflate prizes, introduces prohibitive criteria and applier selective morality. A case in point is that of NORED, RED and others.

8. Amendment of Article 100 to read ; "Land, water and natural resources below and above the surface of the land and in the continental shelf and within the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of Namibia shall belong to the State." Remove the "if" forever.

9. Cabinet to negotiate with cement factory and the Zinc manufacturing company in the south for special exemptions for a dedicated period of time from Sales Tax to reduce the prize of the construction materials for that project

10. Cabinet to negotiate with all municipalities country wide for affordable land prices

11. Cabinet to set up a national constituencies' based human face, heart and mind, a non-corruptible, active monitoring and assessing committee.

12. Parliament to enact legislation on how best to integrate in the form of shareholding, veterans into mining and fishing industries.

Once these action steps are implemented in the spirit of unity, the spirit of national reconciliation, there would be no losers. All will be winners. The end results will be characterised or decorated by "common national identity and inclusiveness in the spirit of One Namibia, one Nation."


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura