LILONGWE (Edwin Mauluka, Malawi NewsNow) –The Commonwealth Ex-Service League of Malawi (CELOM) has expressed its concern over lack of Government commitment to provide enough support to World War Veterans.
The Chairperson for the CELOM, Retired Major General Namwali in his remarks during the inauguration of the 2015 Poppy Day noted lack of Government commitment to support War Veterans in the country.
Namwali made an appeal to President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe that Government ought to consider revising upwards the pensions given to the veterans and ensure that they live in good conditions.
“Pensions must be revisited otherwise we are left in dark. Due poor support our numbers of War Veterans are decreasing due to death which is a result of old age coupled with lack of proper support from government.” He said
Asked in an interview to highlight more, Major General Namwali (Rt) said only War veterans who stayed longer in the war are getting financial support of K2, 500 per month but those who joined late are getting “nothing.” He proposed that the pension be revised to K5, 000 per month because current support is too little.
Namwali, also highlighted that due to lack of proper care coupled with old age, this year alone CELOM has recorded 31 deaths of veterans living in both memorial homes and in their villages. He added that the War veterans for example at Zomba Memorial home are living in poor conditions; in houses which have poor facilities including on sanitation, and with no electricity.
During the meeting with President Mutharika CELOM also appeal for food supplements on maize commodity, inclusion for 2015-2016 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), logistical support on the ongoing identification exercise of the veteran solders and inclusion of energetic retired officers into peace keeping missions.
In his response, president Mutharika promised that as Commander In-Chief of Malawi Defense Force, will look into all the concerns and provide the necessary support.
“I have heard what you said about the assistance and some of the things that you have mentioned I am aware of them. We will try our best in my capacity as minister of defense and my deputy, we will do our best to look at the issues that you have mentioned; the issues of FISP, vehicles, pensions and other issues that you have mentioned,” assured President Mutharika
“I know you are facing a lot of challenges, but it is our obligation to do something for veterans who risked their lives to save us. I would like to invite members of communities to do all they can to contribute, to assist some with assistance whether in form of money and in kind.” He said
At the ceremony, President Peter Mutharika bought a Poppy flower at a value of K1.5 million as one way of supporting the World War Veterans in the country and also appealed to Malawians to support the veterans.
CELOM estimates, indicates up to 500 World War Veterans are still alive in the country as results from its ongoing national wide identification exercise has identified 210 veterans in addition to already known 194 veterans. The exercise expects to identify 150 more veterans in the remaining districts. At the moment there are 15 World War Veterans living in Memorial homes at Cobbe Barracks in Zomba.