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Namibian President Creates A New Ministry For Ex Combatants

Namibian, president Hifikepunye Pohamba has established a new Cabinet Ministry for war veterans known as the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs. It comes in the wake of demands by former combatants who want compensation for the part they played in the country’s independence struggle.

Government sources say they have tried various ways and means to address the issue of war veterans, like the Development Brigade, which collapsed after a few years, and the Structural Integration Program for Ex-Combatants (SIPE), through which many former Plan fighters benefited.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is Namibia’s minister of information. She spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the new ministry.

“ A new ministry is established. As you are aware of Namibia history, how we gained our independence and that was followed by the resistance, the arm liberation struggle and in the process veterans have been created or has come about. And it was felt now after sixteen years of independence when different program have been put in place in order to address the plight of veterans. Now, it was found necessary as the president put it himself, that he found it necessary to have a focal point where issue pertaining to veterans would be addressed. In order for them to get an attention and not to be addressed in pieces, so that is really the whole idea,” she said.

Nandi-Ndaitwah agrees that, the ministry of veteran’s affairs came about as a result of demands made by ex-combatants.

“ Yes, its true in the month there has been demands from what they call themselves, the committee of ex-combatants, they have put forth some demands. Of course the ministry will look into how to address the plight of the veterans. Should it happen that among those once they’ve been demanding they fall in the category then they will benefit accordingly. As things stands now, we have to put a clear definition as to who is a veteran…” she noted.

She describes the new minister chosen by Pohamba to head the ministry seeking to address the concerns of ex-combatants.

“The person who is going to lead the ministry is a senor member of SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation) party, and he is currently a member of the political bureau of SWAPO party and on top of it he is the secretary general of the party. So this is comrade Ngarikutuke Tjiriange. And I think he is the most appropriate person to deal with this very crucial and sensitive issue. Before his appointment, he was a minister without portfolio. But at Namibia’s independence, he served as the first minister of justice. In fact he is the one who set up the ministry of justice, and now he has another task to set up a ministry for veterans affairs,” she said.

Meanwhile the National Committee on the Welfare of Ex-Combatants has welcomed the new ministry.

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