MPs Cry Foul Over Selection Criteria of Veterans

Lawmakers are not happy with the selection criteria used to determine veterans of the liberation struggle, while others are not happy because they are yet to receive their payouts.

During the debate on the veterans affairs vote last week Thursday, several parliamentarians expressed dissatisfaction that a number of worthy individuals who fought for the country have not been recognised, yet there are those who fought for the South West African Territorial Force (SWATF) and Koevoet who have indeed received recognition.

Home Affairs and Immigration Deputy Minister Erastus Uutoni said some former Koevoet members have been recognized as veterans.

“People who must benefit are not being recognized. Please conduct an investigation into the selection committee or bring in new people,” pleaded Uutoni.

He also suggested that members of the veterans board be rotated to ensure transparency.

He claimed he was one of those waiting to receive his money after being recognized as a war veteran years ago.

“We are aging – when we applied we were in our forties and now we are in our fifties but we still did not get our money,” he said.

The president of the United Democratic Front, Apius Auxab, alleged there are several serving Swapo Party members who only joined the ruling party after independence yet they were enjoying the benefits of veterans.

An emotional Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Doreen Sioka said the selection criteria were not fair.

“The people serving on the committee do not know everyone, therefore they are omitting some people who suffered for this country,” she said.

Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Dr Zephania Kameeta is also one of those claiming that a number of people who fought for independence have been sidelined during the selection process.

“Some of us know people who were part of the struggle and who applied years ago but they were declined, yet there are people who were not part of the struggle that were recognized,” he said.

Kameeta says the situation is so bad that he considered sharing some of his veterans money with some of those that were sidelined.

“I thought of sharing my money but I realized that even if I share the money it will not be the same. We need to look seriously into this issue,” urged Kameeta.

Minister of Presidential Affairs Frans Kapofi who motivated the veterans affairs budget admitted that there are “those crying because of the selection criteria” and promised that the issue would be looked into.

He also took a hard stance against veterans squandering their money as well as those who refuse to undergo counselling.

“Some combatants refuse to be counselled since they feel counselling is for mad people,” he said.

He also urged veterans to fend for themselves instead of depending on government: “Being a freedom fighter does not give you the right to depend on the state for everything.”

Source : New Era