Govt sets aside N$200m for Veterans

The government has set aside about N$251 million in the 2015/16 financial year for Individual Veterans’ Projects (IVP), The Villager has learned.     IVPs were incepted in the 2010/2011 financial year and to date, a total of 9 200 IVP projects have been approved and implemented.   In addition, since the veterans’ registration process kicked off in 2008, 57 538 people applied for veteran status. Currently, the number of those accorded veteran status in Namibia stands at 29 619.   Edson Haufiku is the Ministry of Veterans Affairs’spokesperson, and explained that the numbers mentioned above are never stagnant and continue to rise each year.   He said in order to monitor and/or prevent the misuse of IVP funds by the recipients, the IVPs are not paid in cash. The constant monitoring of progress on IVPs shows that many veterans who are serious with their projects are reaping the fruits of their projects.   “The veteran is required to submit pro forma invoices of the goods the veteran intends to buy or needs for the successful implementation of his/her project. Veterans’ Affairs then makes payments directly to the supplier, who in turn delivers the desired goods to the veteran,” Haufiku noted.   As part of the Ministry of Veterans Affairs’ token of appreciation to veterans who participated in the national liberation struggle, they are given a lump sum of N$50 000 (or N$20 000), depending on the years and categories. “This is paid in cash. The ministry has no mandate to dictate to the veterans with regard to how they choose to use that money," he stated.   Haufiku reiterated that the payment of IVP's is not an entitlement, hence they are not paid in cash. It is only given to veterans who apply and wish to engage in the economy of the country in order to improve their livelihoods and that of their immediate families, as well as to assist government in eradicating poverty and reduce unemployment in the country.   Many of the projects accepted are in tailoring, cattle farming, bakery, tractors and discs, poultry, threshers and hammer millers, transport, tyre repairs, accommodation, grocery shops, mini-markets, crop- farming, healthcare clinics, welding, tents and chair hire, lodges, clearing and forwarding services, security services, consultancies, thatch grass, horticulture and so on. Some of the applicants already have established businesses.   Earlier in the year, The Villager reported that government availed N$1.3 billion into the Individual Veterans Projects (IVP), catering for 7289 applications from the financial year 2010/11.   The Minister Nickey Iyambo acknowledged that his ministry was still struggling to provide technical support to the beneficiaries to drive their businesses, except in the fields of agriculture and animal husbandry. The ministry has been dispatching teams to the regions on an annual basis to make sure that the government- bankrolled projects provided opportunities to all the intended beneficiaries.    While the Ministry is convinced that they are making frantic efforts to cater for all veterans, there have been isolated cases in the media in the past few months where some senior war veterans have claimed that they are languishing in poverty, with very minimum support from the ministry.   Thus far, 72 business projects worth slightly over N$13,15 million were handed to war veterans whose business plans were approved by the Veterans’ Board, and 10% of the approved money goes to the veteran, while 90% goes to the service  provider. The Ministry had received 1500 applications.   Others are venturing into business for the first time, and that is where the government will keep an eye on, monitoring the operations and providing back-up support to ensure success.   In addition to the business projects, some veterans who qualify for it receive N$2500 every month, while houses for war veterans are also being built around the country. Other media have also revealed that the Ministry of Veterans Affairs approved 123 education grants to war veterans and their dependents for further studies at vocational and higher learning institutions both in the country and abroad.    On average, the ministry spends roughly N$3.6m on such grants. The ministry received over 1 128 applications for education grants, and only 123 applications were approved. 73 were for veterans themselves, and 50 were the dependents. These applicants were meant to study in fields where there is a shortage in Namibia, like financial management, accounting, public management, policing and so forth.