Govt Needs N$1.4 Billion for Veterans’ Projects

Government needs N$1.4 billion to finance 7 000 approved income-generating projects for veterans of the liberation struggle. However at the moment the Ministry of Veterans Affairs has no funds to pay the N$200 000 earmarked for each of the approved projects, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Dr Nickey Iyambo, said last week during a budget debate in the National Assembly. “We get so many applications compared to the money we are given, Parliament normally approves N$20 million to be allocated to projects. The dilemma we face is that the money is not enough. We have many national and competing needs and we must live with what we receive,” Iyambo said.

About 27 014 Namibians have already been granted the status of liberation struggle veterans. Iyambo said no new applications for registration of war veterans would be processed this year, since the ministry first wants to clear the number of pending applications.

“This year will only be used to make decisions on the applications we have received. This is a long and complicated process, because applicants need to prove that they have contributed to the independence struggle of this country,” he said.

Swapo Party MP Ben Amathila pleaded with Iyambo to approach Cabinet for permission to prioritise gratuity payments to veterans over the age of 75. “Please bring the matter to the attention of Cabinet so the law can be amended. These people cannot wait any longer, because every day they live is a day closer to death. I would like to personally appeal to you to work out a formula so that our veterans can reap benefits from what is entitled to them,” pleaded Amathila. “Right now I can only follow the mandate of the ministry by working within the law. One must also remember that it takes time for laws to go through in this country,” Iyambo replied. He also indicated that the Veterans Board ought to comprise of people who were inside the country during the liberation struggle and those who were outside in order to satisfy everyone and to strike an acceptable balance between the two groups. “The composition of the board needs to change,” he emphasised. Iyambo said many veterans approach the ministry to enquire about their applications, but end up upset and angry when told there are no resources.

Source : New Era