The term ‘veteran’, in earnest, was a definition and description given to people we grew up calling ‘returnees’; people who left Namibia during colonial and South African dominance of 1915-1989.
Most of those classified as veterans and are entitled to related benefits should be those who were left in this country between 1960 and 1989. They could not run and thus remained and withstood the blunt end of South African brutality. Not all, however, who were left in this country engaged the enemy. So why or how could they have been able to do that abroad; in Tanganyika, Cuba, China and elsewhere while the enemy to engage was here at home?
Some of those who went into exile during the liberation struggle in the name of “joining the effort for freedom” still live in those countries, citing economic stability, peace and so on in those nations. In short, most left the borders as refugees and returned as heroes and heroines.
The so-called veterans, who most amass huge qualifications to, apparently attained while living in the diaspora, left our forefathers and mothers here at home suffering, as they had no place to escape to. While they (veterans) felt safe in exile, there were fellows who remained here at home and briskly survived, albeit with difficulty the blunt ruthlessness of colonialism, and they did not waver.
The now termed ‘veterans’ stayed in exile, some studied to doctorate levels even. They had the chance to attend school, while our fathers and mothers who stayed could not, as they were instead chased and hounded by the colonisers. The latter were turned into contract labourers, and they did not waver. They underwent the state of emergency of 1971-2, declared after the referendum, which most voted in favour of Swapo and UNO. That was a sign that those who claimed that those who stayed behind were South African allies and puppets were and still are wrong.
Basically, not all who stayed were mercenaries, puppets and allies of the South African occupation.
Today, we live in a Namibia where the unemployment rate stands at 27.4% and land is unavailable to natives, but foreigners, who apparently sided with Namibia during the penultimate of South African dominance. Our graduates suffer in the streets, our voters live in kambashus and their livelihoods are not guaranteed. They lease the land they were maimed for while veterans lived in safe heavens in exile.
Veterans swim in a wealth of preferential treatment. They received their N$50 000 compensation, are entitled to N$200 000 worth of projects each, land is allocated to them easily, they get N$2 500 monthly allowances and a tractor as a compliment, while a N$100 per person of Basic Income Grant (BIG) is denied to the rest of the majority that lives in abject poverty.
One wonders why a minority group should get preferential treatment in favour of the majority that has experienced first-hand bloodshed caused by the enemy we now worship. Why should I live and suffer in my motherland? I live in abject poverty and yet come this November, I am expected to wander and crawl from the side of the road where I live in a kambashu, cultivate no land and have no sanitary drinking water, to go and vote as a ‘patriotic Namibian’?
Well, I will do that for the sake of exercising the single democratic right I can still enjoy. As much as I may wish to urge my fellow Namibians to vote with me, I call upon our Government more, to consider every Namibian when allocating national benefits. We could all make use of tractors.
I am sure my younger brother whose mother died in the FNB bomb blast of 1989 at Oshakati could come up with a good project idea and make it viable enough to employ his fellows, if accorded the chance. I am sure with my post-independence doctorate in agriculture, I could make use of the vast underutilised land allocated to the minority commercial farmers south of the so-called RED LINE. This would help me contribute in feeding a nation ravaged by drought.
I pity the future generation; there will never be another exile to go to so they could someday get land and live comfortably in their motherland, get grants, tractors and earn projects. But until then, they’ll remain under the influence.
Disgruntled Namibian from Omuthiya.