Cabinet at its meeting held 5 July 2016 resolved that urgent measures be taken in order to address the plight of the Children of the Liberation Struggle.
This decision was taken to ease the situation of the Children of the Liberation Struggle which has become untenable. Hundreds of the Children of the Liberation Struggle have been camping at Brakwater in Windhoek, Oshakati and other places around the country leaving them exposed to cold, wind and without food and other amenities.
In pursuance of this matter, Cabinet constituted a Technical Committee chaired by the Secretary to Cabinet to expedite the implementation of the Cabinet Decision.
The Technical Committee advised that in order to find a permanent solution to all the Children of the Liberation Struggle, suitable places be identified around the country where the Children of the Liberation Struggle will be relocated.
It was further recommended that all Children of the Liberation Struggle undergo training in various technical fields in order to equip them with technical knowledge and skills so that they can become employable as well as employ themselves in various economic trades, i.e. plumbing, agriculture, auto mechanics, electrical installation, etc.
The following training centres were identified, namely Berg Aukas in Otjozondjupa and Farm Du Plessis in Omaheke Region. The Ministry of Youth, Sport and National Youth Service and the Ministry of Works and Transport were tasked to ensure that physical infrastructures at these training centres are in good working order to accommodate the Children of the Liberation Struggle at least by 8 July 2016 with priority given to lactating and pregnant mothers.
During the training, the trainees will receive meals, accommodation and a monthly allowance. And upon completion of their training, trainees will be offered employment opportunities in the Government and State-Owned Enterprises.
The option of training was chosen to be the effective one to avoid mistakes made in the past where Children of the Liberation Struggle were offered temporary jobs. They soon lost it and some of them are among the current group camping at Breakwater and Oshakati still seeking employment.
The Technical Committee engaged the leadership of about 600 Children of the Liberation Struggle camping at Brakwater in Windhoek on 8 July 2016 in order to inform them about Cabinet’s Decision and their relocation to Berg Aukas.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Oshana, Hon. Clemens Kashuupulwa addressed the Children of the Liberation Struggle camping at Oshakati on 8 July 2016. This group has agreed to move to Berg Aukas on 12 July 2016. I had an opportunity to meet this group at Berg Aukas on 13 July 2016.
During the meeting at Berg Aukas, the Children of the Liberation Struggle accommodated there expressed appreciation for the Government’s decision to offer them training and requested that efforts be made to ensure that they are given jobs after six months of training.
Currently, a total number of 270 Children of the Liberation Struggle are accommodated at Berg Aukas.
‘Struggle kids’ camping at Brakwater in Windhoek
In the spirit of inclusivity, the Technical Committee established a Coordinating Committee headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and composed of leaders of NEKA as well as the Committee of the Brakwater Children of the Liberation Struggle.
The Coordinating Committee was established to assist the Technical Committee with information regarding the situation and needs of the Children of the Liberation Struggle during the process of relocation.
At its first meeting, the Coordinating Committee held 27 July 2016, the leaders of the Children of the Liberation Struggle camping at Brakwater informed the said meeting that they are rejecting their relocation to Berg Aukas.
However, some members of the Children of the Liberation Struggle camping at Brakwater informed the meeting that they would like to be relocated to Berg Aukas to undergo training. Subsequently, a total number of 84 Children of the Liberation Struggle were transported to Berg Aukas on 5 August 2016.
In a letter addressed to me as the Secretary to Cabinet on 3 August 2016, the Children of the Liberation Struggle camping at Brakwater requested a meeting with him to clarify issues of vacancies that were submitted to my office by various Offices/Ministries/Agencies, as well as the activities of the Technical Committee which I chair and the Coordinating Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister.
In their letter, they threatened that if their letter is not attended to before Monday, 8 August 2016 they will stage a march to the Office of the Secretary to Cabinet.
With the view to clearly communicate the Government’s position, I went to Brakwater on 5 August 2016 to meet with Children of the Liberation Struggle there. My going to Brakwater was two-fold: to meet them as a whole group and also to inform them about Cabinet’s Decision as well as to enlighten them about the current developments regarding the relocation of the Children of the Liberation Struggle to Berg Aukas.
I was accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Steenkamp of the Namibian Police and other Police and Government Staff Members.
We were welcomed by the Chairperson of the Committee of the Children of the Liberation Struggle Group at Brakwater, Mr Tuhafeni Nhinda and his colleagues.
The meeting started peacefully. I informed them about the Cabinet Decision, the role of the Technical and Coordinating Committees as they have requested me to do. I further emphasized the purpose for training and further indicated that Government will indeed provide employment to them once they completed their training at Berg Aukas.
After I had delivered my message I requested them to ask questions if there were any. They asked questions, most of which were in a form of a rejection of the Government’s decision to relocate them to Berg Aukas. They indicated that they are not going to be relocated. They should be provided with jobs instead of training.
Arrival of the crew of One Africa Television at the meeting
While the meeting was in progress, suddenly the crew of One Africa Television appeared at the meeting and started to film the meeting.
The members of the Namibian Police intervened since the crew did not have permission to attend and film the meeting. However, it appeared the crew was invited by the Children of the Liberation Struggle at Brakwater and the meeting nearly resulted in chaos. Order only returned when the crew was allowed to film the meeting.
One could clearly conclude that One Africa Television was invited to film a commotion that was to break out as soon as its crew arrives, apparently to create an impression I went to flare up tensions there, as it was later reported on One Africa Television that I went to pressurize the Children of the Liberation Struggle to go to Berg Aukas.
One of the speakers expressed tribal sentiments that I do not know their language, background and situation, while another one said I have allowed myself to be used by those who know the problem. Some shouted in the background “these Muyongo people”.
I wish to make it categorically clear that my going to Brakwater was due to the invitation that I received from this group and I went there to inform them about the Cabinet Decision. As Secretary to Cabinet and as Chairperson of the Technical Committee set up by Cabinet it is a matter falling under my mandate.
It is unfortunate that some media houses in our country have chosen to become a pawn and create a negative picture about this intricate matter of resolving the plight of the Children of the Liberation Struggle.
I would like to conclude that Government’s strategy in solving this matter remains clear, namely, to relocate all the Children of the Liberation Struggle to Berg Aukas, and provide them with relevant training before they are employed.
However, in view of the fact that the available spaces at both Berg Aukas in Otjozondjupa Region and Farm Duplesie in Omaheke Region may not be able to accommodate all the Children of the Liberation Struggle at one time, we encourage those who are at their homes to remain there. They will be invited when opportunities avail themselves.
I would therefore like to appeal to all stakeholders to support Government’s efforts in ensuring that the plight of the Children of the Liberation Struggle has been solved. Similarly, I would like to encourage the Children of the Liberation Struggle to cooperate and seize the opportunity offered by the Government to address their situation.
George Simataa is Secretary to Cabinet