Veterans Act not inclusive and discriminates - Shixwameni

All Peoples Party (APP) President Ignatius Shixwameni has welcomed the amendments to the Veterans Act of 2008, but noted that it was discriminating against the youth who also actively participated in the country’s liberation.

In his contribution to the debate on the Veterans Act Amendment Bill on Tuesday, Shixwameni aired his grievances regarding the act which currently disqualifies people who were 18 years and younger at independence in 1990 for veteran status.

Shixwameni, who was himself a student leader of the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) at the dawn of independence, maintained that youth and students participated equally with adults against apartheid.

The youthful politician claimed that the age limitation was brought in to avoid accusations that Swapo enlisted children as soldiers in the liberation war. Shixwameni was interrupted by Nudo MP Arnold Tjihuiko who remarked that he was not aware of Swapo’s “exclusion strategy”. According to him, Swapo deliberately discriminates against certain people, while adding that some party members are “practicing apartheid” against those who were based in the country during the liberation struggle.

Shixwameni was of the opinion that discrimination is completely wrong and cannot be forgiven in an independent Namibia “for which we all fought for”. Swapo MP and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Petrus Iilonga, emphasised that those who participated in the struggle are all regarded as veterans regardless of their ages. “Let’s just identify the youth who participated in the struggle,” said Iilonga.

The APP leader also slammed a recent directive by Cabinet to reserve all entry level jobs to persons born in exile. He added the last time he heard about job reservation was in apartheid era and said the idea must be rejected with the contempt it deserves.

Swanu President Usutuaije Maamberua also entered the fray on a point of information, stating that when there is a talk about liberation forces, his party cannot be excluded. He claimed that the organisation had already trained forces in China before 1963.

According to Tjihuiko the terminology around liberation forces excludes certain people and therefore is a new form of discrimination. The Minister of Sport, National Service, Sport and Culture, Kazenambo Kazenambo accused Tjihuiko of cheap politicking.

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