March 4, 2015, 7:07am
SWAKOPMUND – The Ministry of Veterans Affairs has already spent N$1.3 billion on lump sum payouts, individual projects and housing for 7 289 war veterans.
The ministry started these payments in 2010.
Some war veterans, who are unemployed, retired, or physically handicapped also receive monthly grants of N$2 200 each from the veterans ministry, revealed the PS of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, Hopelong Ipinge.
The ministry, since its inception in 2006, has registered and approved 27 000 war veterans with 30 000 applications still to be processed.
The veterans’ affairs PS revealed this during the annual review and planning meeting of the ministry that is underway in Swakopmund.
Ipinge said despite facing numerous challenges, the ministry ensures it addresses the needs of veterans.
“Assistance in terms of business establishment, housing, resettlement, medical assistance are all challenges that we identified and will discuss and map out after this meeting,” he said yesterday.
Referring to the registration process of veterans, Ipinge said it is a continuous and lengthy process.
“If we look at the number of registered veterans, we have done well, but can still do more and process the 30 000 applicants,” he added.
He said they still expect more applications as some of the veterans only learned recently about the process.
“We are still expecting some of the ex-PLAN fighters, who are currently on farms, to come and register for veteran status as they only recently learned about the process,” Ipinge explained.
“It’s a very difficult process, as the applicants have to go through a lengthy vetting process so that we can ascertain if they really qualify for veteran status. After assessing and vetting them, you have to approve and identify those getting a lump sum and the criteria they fall under as well as inform those rejected during the process,” he said.
Despite such challenges Ipinge said the ministry ensures those granted veteran status, with individual projects are approved and the necessary support given to such projects. “They have to enjoy the benefits (of independence) while they are still alive,” he said.
He admitted some of the business ventures initiated by veterans failed due to the fact that they have got substandard material and equipment and when this equipment breaks they do not have money to repair it.
“But there are successful projects as well,” he said.
Namibia is the second country in southern Africa, after Mozambique, to create a special ministry for former war combatants.
About 42 000 Namibians returned from exile during 1989 and 1990, about half of them were members of Swapo’s armed wing – the then the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).