Eba Kandovazu

OVER 20 000 former plan combatants have turned to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation (Mirco) after unsuccessfully petitioning the United Nation High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR), for money they say is owed to them.

The UN, according to the group referred them to Mirco. Mirco

Executive Director (ED), Penda Naanda, however, says the ministry is not aware of any funds allocated for resettlement and rehabilitation by the UNHCR for the ex-freedom fighters repatriated in 1989. Naanda says the group was granted audience by Mirco Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah in April.

The group’s Chairperson Matheus Nangolo says the group is demanding answers from Nandi-Ndaitwah after dilly-dallying between her ministry and the Home Affairs and Immigration Ministry earlier this year, to no avail. According Nangolo, Home Affairs Minister at the time, Albert Kawana, referred them back to Nandi-Ndaitwah.

“I would like to acknowledge previous correspondences regarding the alleged payment by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1989. You are hereby kindly informed that the events which happened prior to Namibia’s independence, and which involved an international organisation are not within the mandate of this ministry. You are kindly advised to engage the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation. Perhaps they might shed some light on the matter,” Kawana wrote to the group.

Nangolo says the group has since drawn up a timetable for the entire September to march and demonstrate every Tuesday towards the ministry, until a response is given by Nandi-Ndaitwah. According to Nangolo, the former Plan combatants are about 23 000. However, only close to 100 have been participating in the current September march.

This Tuesday the group again marched to the ministry. Naanda says that yesterday, Nandi-Ndaitwah extended an invitation to the group for a meeting today at 10h00. “However, the group indicated that they were not ready to meet the minister and requested for a future date,” he says.

Former Plan combatants Spokesperson, Jona Efraim, confirms that the group was not ready to meet the minister today because they were not sufficiently represented. “Some people are in the North. We have agreed to the date of 10 October to meet up with the minister and discuss the issues at hand. About eight of us will attend the meeting. The meeting is not restricted to leaders of the group alone,”Efraim says.

Nangolo says US$ 21, 705 640 was supposed to be paid for the reintegration of Namibian returnees within their home communities. The money, he says was aimed at meeting critical short term needs for individual and family rehabilitation, and to promote self-reliance among its beneficiaries.

The group demand that the UN provides a list of names of ex-Namibian refugees who benefited, if the repatriation programme was successful. According to Nangolo, the UN referred the group to Government.