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Accepted Contribution:

Reimagining reintegration through combatant agency: Trajectories of Namibia’s PLAN ex-fighters (1989-2018)  
Tichaona Mazarire (North-West University) Luiza Mazarire

Contribution short abstract:

This paper presents an analysis of individual agency/trajectories of Namibia's PLAN ex-fighters from 1989 through 2018, in order to ascertain to what extent they have reintegrated into society.

Contribution long abstract:

In the past, Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) has been measured for its success or failure based on programmes. This method has proved to be flawed, as it does not focus on the individual agency and/or “lived experiences” of ex-fighters but rather on whether programmatic ‘goals’ have been achieved, thereby giving DDR programme sponsors/donors an incomplete picture. Previously scholars on Namibia’s reintegration have focused on the ‘delivery’ of reintegration policies by the Namibian government and the collective militant agency of veterans of the liberation struggle. The problem with such an approach is it generalises the experiences of ex-fighters missing out on their unique individual agency, which when mapped, gives a more accurate account of their reintegration progress. Therefore, this paper presents an analysis of individual agency/trajectories of Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) ex-fighters for almost 30 years (1989-2018) in order to ascertain to what extent they have reintegrated into society/communities as opposed to analysing their reintegration from a programmatic perspective or generalising their collective experience. These life histories were obtained through semi-structured interviews that mapped their individual trajectories from 1989 through 2018. Through mapping individual trajectories of PLAN ex-fighters the study reveals the limitations of reintegration programming and the broader DDR framework, which privileges its own measures of analysis at the expense of understanding how people make lives in the aftermath of war with or without assistance from reintegration programmes. Thus, they suggest that successful reintegration hinges, to a great extent, on individual agency and one’s ability to adapt and not necessarily on benefits from reintegration programmes.

Panel Poli45
The legacies and futures of soldiers, rebels and militias from central & southern Africa’s armed conflicts
  Session 1