Political PerspectiveBy: Gwen Lister
I FEEL adamant that there is no such thing as ‘struggle children’ and we shouldn’t be calling them that any longer. It is 22 years after Independence and they are all adults now.
And if they’re not grown up yet, it is time they did so with all the advantages they’ve had over other far more needy Namibians since independence. I also totally disagree with Prime Minister Nahas Angula and former Head of the Army, Martin Shalli, who claim that those born in exile are a ‘special category’ and should be treated accordingly. It is clearly unfair to continue to benefit one group over others and this selective approach by the Government deserves to be summarily set aside in terms of not only the Anti-Discrimination Act but also our national conscience (if we still have one!)
THE so-called ‘struggle kids’, like the veterans, have been the recipients of several handouts since Independence. From cash payouts to allowances and housing and jobs and educational opportunities, they’ve been on the receiving end, courtesy of the taxpayer. And they keep coming back for more. We also know precisely how many exiles came back at Independence, yet their number continues to swell. We even have an Namibian Exile Kids Association (Neka), for what purpose I am not entirely sure, although I am certain we are paying for it, in addition to their recent ‘congress’!
Are we so blind that we do not see in the media coverage the trauma of families being evicted from their ‘houses’ and resorting to live off filthy dumpsites in various parts of the country? The non-struggle children in rags eking out a hand-to-mouth existence during the coldest time of the year? How many of these are so-called ‘struggle children’ or veterans? None, or very few, I would vouch to suggest, for the exiles are not forced to forage from garbage, but are fortunate enough to get N$200 000 (and even more expensive) homes built for them as well as cash payouts and jobs and resettlement farms – the list continues – and yet still they complain of neglect.
We have to stop our double standards towards the children of Namibia, treating some groups more equally than others. Adults too. We self-servingly claim to want to ‘empower the people’, but most of the time we are giving more to those elites who’ve already had ample opportunity at fishing quotas and other BEE deals and have messed them up or squandered the money, and the hypocrisy of those justifying such corruption makes me sick to my stomach. Where are these self-proclaimed ‘saviours’ when it comes to the bulldozers razing squatter homes; where are their protests then?
It is not often I find myself in agreement with the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and the Rally for Democracy (RDP), but I’m in concert with them and Mandela Kapere of the National Youth Council, who dispute that the so-called ‘struggle kids’ are the “true heirs of Namibian independence”. Indeed, the struggle was to liberate all Namibians from the yoke of colonialism and to create a just and equal society. Making select groups more special than others is certainly not the way to do it and a recipe for disaster in the long run, for we are marginalising entire communities in the process.
It is really time we begin to apply standards of moral consistency towards the people of this country and the CoD is correct to say that Namibians should “reject this rubbish”.
Perhaps Government could tell all Namibians – for they deserve to know – what has been spent on these alleged ‘special’ groups since Independence? How many thousands were given jobs; how many thousands were given cash payouts; how many were resettled; and what the total cost has been. Then maybe we can see we have already given adequate ‘compensation’ to the exiles, and can put a lid on this discriminatory extravagance once and for all, stop the BEE rot, and instead look after our truly disadvantaged people for a change.
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