The People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), the military wing of the SWAPO movement, was disbanded during the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process as part of war to peace transition in 1989.
Nevertheless, the reintegration process was largely not successful as hundreds of ex-PLAN combatants were left on the periphery of the society with little or no support to make meaningful living.
Notwithstanding, a number of the ex-combatants were reintegrated into the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), the Namibian Police Force and others employed in various government ministries. This was indeed a moral principle from the government that ensured peace and stability in an independent Namibia.
Of late though, when one reads a newspaper or listens to the radio and other social media, it is common to hear or read the concerns been raised by some ex-combatants who feel their needs have not been sufficiently addressed or feel forgotten. Some of the apprehensions include lack of communication or information on why money is not paid since their project applications were approved as far back as 2013.
Others feel there is no noticeable benefit they receive from the Namibia National Liberation Veterans Association (NNLVA) that was formed with the aim to improve the well-being of the war veterans through income-generating activities.
Although the formation of the NNLVA was with good intention, however, it has not adequately addressed the predicament faced by ex-PLAN combatants. It should be noted that Ex-PLAN combatants are the only war veterans because they are the ones who were involved in the warfare; the others may only be considered as veterans.
This is the challenge of the NNLA because it embraces all those who contributed to the liberation of Namibia without making a difference between a civilian or military. The ex-combatants of PLAN should not have been put together with those who were involved in the politico-social liberation struggle of Namibia.
PLAN was a military force heavily-armed and highly-organised primarily intended for warfare. Therefore, PLAN operated in a military environment with its unique demands that are far much different from the civilian settings.
PLAN combatants operated under extreme environment that included carrying heavy weapon and ammunitions on their shoulders; sleeping in trenches or seeking shelter under trees during rainy season; bitten by poisonous snakes or insects such as tsetse fly – that causes sleeping sickness, others were eaten by wild animals; some of them were maimed during the battle against the enemy forces.
Therefore, to adequately serve the interests of the war veterans of PLAN combatants, there is need to revisit the NNLVA. PLAN veterans should have an association that is affiliated to the SWAPO Party; after all, PLAN was a wing of the SWAPO movement. PLAN was at all times subordinate to the political leadership of SWAPO. Undoubtedly, PLAN encompasses a significant constituency; therefore, it is a vital part of SWAPO and an important voice.
The NNLVA has largely failed to improve the socio-economic well-being of the unemployed ex-PLAN combatants, many of whom are languishing in poverty. It is tear-jerking to see the conditions in which many of the unemployed PLAN ex-combatants live. The armed struggle is over, however, the representation of the ex-PLAN combatant as a wing in SWAPO may ensure unity, the defence of the revolution, contribution to the consolidation of peace, stability and nation building.
2019-08-16 08:12:10 6 days ago