Namvet plans court challenge

The former soldiers say the ruling party is not concerned about their human rights.

18 April 2019 | Local News

The Namibia War Veterans Trust (Namvet) says it will soon launch a court challenge to continue its fight to get former SWATF/Koevoet soldiers recognised as war veterans.

So far, the quest has fallen on deaf ears. “With the help of our friends – many of whom are former SWATF/Koevoet – we have a lawyer available and money to register a court case,” Namvet spokesperson Jabulani Ndeunyema said Monday.

A small group of these former soldiers handed over a petition to Lydia Kandetu, parliament's secretary, in which they reiterate their demand for benefits and welfare services accrued to all military veterans the world over.

This is in reaction to a report by the parliamentary standing committee on constitutional and legal affairs chaired by Sebastiaan Karupu, which concluded in October last year that the former SWATF/Koevoet soldiers cannot be recognised under the Namibia War Veterans Act of 2008, which recognises only former PLAN soldiers as war veterans.

Namvet also demanded that parliament pass an Act recognising members of any of the military formations involved in the war from 1966 to 1989 as war veterans.

The Karupu report suggests that former SWATF/Koevoet members should seek social benefits from other ministries, for example state medical care, old-age pensions and other social grants.

Ndeunyema said the former soldiers wanted to submit “fresh proposals” to Karupu's committee within the next week.

“From the report it is clear they do not understand our demands. As a Namibian I have already gone to the state hospitals, which were built by South Africa. For them to say I must register for social grants that were introduced by the former colonial administration is strange. It is not for Swapo to tell me that; I know that,” Ndeunyema said.

He said it would appear that Swapo's aim was to simply replace the former foreign ruler with a local one.

“It has nothing to do with the respect of human rights. All these years we have been meeting with them, petitioning them and requested that they depoliticise the issue of SWATF/Koevoet but they do not want to understand,” Ndeunyema said. He said the ex-soldiers' hope that there was a political will after meetings with President Hage Geingob in 2016 were dashed after Geingob subsequently met with former president Hifikepunye Pohamba.

He said if National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi did not respond positively to their demands, they would ask all former SWATF/Koevoet soldiers and their children to come to Windhoek to stage mass protests.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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