CoD will reform Veterans Act if put in power: Ulenga

WINDHOEK: Congress of Democrats (CoD) president Ben Ulenga says if elected into power, his party would reform and radically change the Veterans’ Act in order to do away with political rewards and awards.

Ulenga made the remarks at a media conference here on Monday during which he announced the CoD’s political platform, which will be the substance of its election manifesto based on a five-point plan, to the media.

He said the five-point plan is aimed at bringing change and transformation to the whole country and society and shall include all communities.

The party is also busy finalising its election manifesto and plan which will be publicised within the next 30 days.

“The current Veterans Act to some extent has been positive as it has helped to take a few people out of misery. However, it has been very divisive,” the CoD president stated.

He noted that if elected into power, his party would take examples of Veterans’ Acts from other countries where all people who have participated in a war would be included.

Ulenga said the CoD’s Veterans Act would give freedom to former soldiers to organise themselves into their appropriate veterans’ organisations.

“Then the State’s job would be to assist these people regardless of the side they were fighting on. This happens in other countries,” he explained.

He further added that all those who fought for or against the liberation struggle should have a right to organise themselves in groups such as those still traumatised by the events of the struggle, or those who lost limbs, so they can approach the State to receive limbs or counselling.

He further stated that veterans should not be awarded money or social services based on their political affiliation, which is the case in Namibia.

“It is very regrettable that even our President in this country who is generally a very good citizen made statements to the effect that if you were fighting as a koevoet or SWATF member you cannot get assistance from the State,” he stressed.

Ulenga said what the state should now seek is reconciliation as announced by Government at Independence in 1990.

“That is what we would re-introduce as CoD,” he said.

The Veterans Act, Act No 2 of 2008 was enacted and came into force on 08 July 2008.

The Act assists the Ministry of Veterans’ Affairs in designing and implementing appropriately targeted poverty reduction programmes amongst veterans.

The Act also makes provisions for, among others, definitions of who is a veteran and a dependant of a veteran of the liberation struggle and registration of veterans and dependant of veterans throughout the country.

Under the Act, it is the State’s responsibility to provide financial and other assistance to eligible veterans and dependants of veterans to enable them to be reintegrated in the social and economic mainstream of society.