Elderly vets say project funding is delayed

Windhoek-Some aggrieved war veterans - many of whom are senior citizens - have complained that the Directorate of Veterans' Affairs in the Office of the Vice President is taking too long to approve funding for their projects.

They say they are very old - some are over 80 and 90 years old - but still are not given priority for their projects to be finalised.

They feel government is supposed to prioritise their applications for their projects, as time is running out for them to enjoy the "fruits of independence".

In response, the spokesperson in the directorate of the veterans' affairs, Edson Haufiku yesterday dismissed such claims as untrue.

"There was a directive given last year that all projects of old and sickly people (war veterans) should be given priority," he said, adding the process is still ongoing.

Deputy Minister in the Directorate of Veterans Affairs Hilma Nicanor said 1,269 applications were reviewed by the veterans board thus far. As part of the registration process, she said the appeal board adjudicated over 314 appeal cases.

Further, she noted that 881 veterans were added to the monthly subventions, while 235 families of deceased veterans were offered funeral assistance.

As part of its veterans welfare development programme, the directorate managed to erect 1,718 tombstones on the graves of war veterans across the country during the year under review.

The deputy minister said despite the numerous challenges, there are also success stories to tell.

These, she says, include a record of 1,355 individual veterans projects that have been initiated and fully funded.

Another achievement she highlighted relates to the 65 houses that were constructed, of which 47 have been handed over, while 18 are at various levels of completion.

She said the directorate of veterans' affairs also offers psycho-social support to war veterans and their dependents and this includes clinical and spiritual counselling.

During the year under review, she said, 330 veterans and their dependents benefited from the psycho-social support programme.

In an attempt to assist the war veterans, she noted that the directorate offers educational grants to beneficiaries for both academic and vocational training.

About 311 students have benefited from the programme.

Nicanor said they also worked hard on the revision of the legal framework that guides its operations. "I am here referring to the Principal Veterans Act, No.2 of 2008, the Veterans Amendment Act No.3 of 2013, as well as its regulations. This process is at an advanced stage and will culminate in the tabling of the proposed amendment Bill in parliament and subsequent gazetting thereof," she maintained.

She urged staff members to do more with the little the directorate has, while motivating them to adhere to and implement improved financial prudence measures, as advocated by the Finance Ministry.

"This simply means that we need to, in all earnest, promote a culture of value for money, as well as cost-cutting measures, so as to reduce [unnecessary] spending," she said.

She further said staff should avoid a situation whereby projects and programmes are left to be affected by the budget cuts, mainly due to inefficiency as a result of delays, or by simply failing to make the best use of the resources allocated by the concerned officials.

She discouraged uncontrolled travelling and the unproductive use of government resources, saying overtime worked and trips undertaken should be that which is deemed absolutely essential and authorised to get value for money, or those warranted to the delivery of the core functions of the directorate.

Further, she urged staff to do away with unprofessional and unethical behaviour, such as delays in executing their duties, absenteeism, leaving the office unattended, as well as reporting for work late and knocking off before the authorised time.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia