Want some insight in Namibian politics? I am no expert but have 16 years (1995-2011) of writing on Namibian politics in The Namibian newspaper and can probably offer you a bit more than you know about the who's who in the Namibian political zoo. You will also find a few articles commenting on other issues of concern in the country. Hope you find it interesting. - Christof

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Swapo Women’s Congress: Paving The Way For ‘A Neutral’?

THE outcome of last weekend’s Swapo Party Women’s Council congress has given many following the 2012 Swapo succession debate much food for thought.

While, for instance, there were attempts by both camps of the two main candidates for the vice presidency race in Swapo to block the incumbent women’s league secretary Petrina Haingura from re-election or even standing, she thrashed her opponent and came out tops with a huge majority.
Her victory was not entirely surprising but the huge number of votes gave an indication that there is a third group – the silent majority – who prefer neither Hage Geingob nor Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana as the party’s candidate for the 2014 national presidential election.
That group could be key in next year’s congress of the party and President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s recent outburst against the two candidates indicates that he was driving home a message that Geingob and Ithana should remember that other possibilities do exist.
I can safely mention the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku and Speaker of the National Assembly Theo-Ben Gurirab as two of the possibles.
Both are in the mould of Pohamba and having either of them will mean that the “ship will remain as steady as Pohamba kept it”. That’s continuity in Pohamba’s eyes and mind.
He likes to play it safe and under Hausiku or Gurirab, we will neither make a big leap forward nor deteriorate significantly.
A ‘neutral’ like those two would also be a surprise to all those who have so far invested in one way or another in the underground campaigns of Geingob and Ithana.
So when we see attempts fail, like the one to remove Haingura by lobbying Pohamba, it gives us an indication that the President has made room for an outsider in the race, in the event the two key candidates do not toe the line as he requested.
Of course we know that Haingura had to be wheelbarrowed in by former President Sam Nujoma (as one of his 10 choices for the National Assembly). Therefore, the former nurse from Rundu was seen as one of Nujoma’s favourites and it was not a surprise that Pohamba gave her a deputy minister position when he took over in 2005.
It is worth pointing out that although Ithana supported Haingura to become the SPWC secretary during the Rundu congress election five years ago, much has changed since then.
For instance, Ithana’s camp included those who blamed Haingura for failing to push the party top structures for a 50/50 representation which would have ensured that more women were elected to Parliament. Geingob’s people also supported the push which failed to materialise.
But Haingura managed to shrug off both sides, thanks to support from the neutrals.
Many would then ask how it was that Ithana topped the list but was not able to convince the congress to elect her candidate of choice.
Swapo’s voters, especially at congress, have a voting pattern that perplexes me continually.
When they target one person, they seem to forget another opponent.
In simple terms, the women were out to stop Karin Nghishidimbwa from becoming secretary of the SPWC and that is where their energy was concentrated. In the process they ‘just ticked’ the name of Ithana without realising that they were voting for her!
It has happened in the past.
When they targeted Ithana because she was a supporter of Geingob at an earlier congress, she was not even able to make it to the top 15 of the SPWC.
So Ithana being number one on the list could also only last until the next chance they get to vote. I think she knows this very well!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Should We Continue To Call Them Honourables?

A STUDENT was recently expelled from a youth skills centre for asking whether councillors should indeed be called “Honourable”.

I was surprised that no student movement or political organisation came to his defence.
Could I take it that their silence is confirmation that they agree with what has happened to Matuundju Kavaka? And what has happened to freedom of thought or expression?
Kavaka, a young man from Omaheke Region, was a student at the Kai //ganaxab youth skills centre outside Mariental and was doing his internship at the Hardap Regional Council.
Whilst working in the corridors one day, he passed a regional councillor. Kavaka did not notice the councillor and thus did not greet him – something which did not go down well with the politician, who felt the young man was being disrespectful.
According to Kavaka he was later called in by the councillor and told that he should “bow down” to him when greeting and also address him as “Honourable”.
The event ignited something in Kavaka, who put his thoughts in a letter that he submitted to newspapers for publishing, but he was subsequently disciplined by the youth centre.
As a youth who aspires to become a leader, Kavaka was right in asking why politicians should be called “Honourable”.
I agree with his assertion that when politicians need people’s votes they pretend to be humble servants. When you go to their rallies, some would even stand up to give you a chair to sit on or carry water to you. In some cases they’ve been known to bow down in front of the electorate.
But that changes as soon as the results are announced and they are proclaimed victors.
They become pompous (or was it there all the time, just hidden until the votes are in?) and are not prepared to listen to an ordinary member of society.
Some even deny the people the rights which they have sworn to defend, such as in Kavaka’s case where freedom of thought and expression was taken away from him by someone who has yet to deliver tangible results for the voters in the constituency.
Such elected leaders forget that they are people just like anyone else. They should insist that there is no need for them to be called “Honourable”. The title alone will not engender respect from the people. But respect for the people and delivering on promises will!
In Namibia too much time is spent on titles and words such as “Honourable” and “Comrade”. When some Cabinet ministers write letters they refer to themselves as “Honourable Minister”, followed in brackets by “Member of Parliament”.
If we repeat phrases or words such as “Honourable” all the time, and especially when addressing politicians who are known to be useless in society, there is a risk that the words will lose their meaning. We need to break with this verbiage.
Therefore it is sickening to note that a prospective future leader like Kavaka faces the wrath of the authorities when he publicly ponders on the role of leadership in a society.
Instead of removing him from the Hardap Regional Council so that the youth centre that seconded him there will continue to receive favours, the discussion started by the young man should have been encouraged by institutions such as the National Youth Council, Namibia National Students’ Organisation and the youth leagues of various political parties.
The youth centre was wrong to withdraw him to maintain a good working relationship with the Regional Council because the council is an institution that will be there even after the so-called ‘honourables’ are gone.
And the ‘honourables’ should be reminded that they are there to represent people like Kavaka. They are their servants and not their bosses.
We have had enough of ‘honourables’ who are full of themselves and holier than thou but have done little or nothing to keep the promise they made to the people.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cost Of Talk-Shops Is Huge For The Economy

EVERY day around N$1 million in tax money is spend on Subsistence and Travel (S&T) allowances for Government officials.

It makes one wonder whether we actually get good value out of such massive spending.
Travelling on a Sunday, one often sees a fleet of Government vehicles heading towards Windhoek from especially north of Okahandja. The majority are civil servants on their way to one or other workshop. This sight repeats itself almost on a weekly basis.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Nahas Angula had to explain to fellow members of the National Assembly why N$388 million had been budgeted for S&T for this financial year and called on public servants to be "very cautious about the pennies that we spend”.
Some civil servants cash in on subsistence and travel allowances by 'creating' trips outside the office by claiming that they are going work but in some instances many don't even attend the workshops half the time they say they do.
I am not against workshops but having talk-shops just to spout hot air is costing the country not only in terms of S&Ts, but also valuable time.
Too much time is spent on workshops and seminars but decisions taken there are hardly ever implemented.
In some instances such workshops are on the insistence of donors or those who indirectly want to benefit from the amounts donated.
As a result, a lot of time and effort is put into organising them but participants, especially those from outside the city, will spend the time to touch base at head offices of ministries, visit relatives, make appointments for annual medical check-ups or go on shopping sprees.
The S&T payments are fixed amounts per day which are determined through the S&T rate policy for different levels of employment as well as different destinations and officials do not account for the actual spending. Neither do they have to submit receipts.
Very few of those who attend will in all earnest seek to come up with workable solutions or contributions during the meetings.
It is lots of hot air and little action.
We must move away from talk-shops (however well intended) and towards real action!
It is unacceptable that we spend over N$1 million a day on S&T alone (this does not include related costs such as accommodation) yet we do not even make time to reflect on what was decided at a certain workshop.
In some instances, people who attend workshops will return from one and head off to another one the next week without even briefing colleagues.
When will the decisions taken in the first one be implemented?
Isn’t it then right to conclude that in most such cases opportunities are simply created to generate S&T?
Worst is the fact that some officials undertake multiple trips for events that do not even fall within their scope and ambit. Many hog trips so that others cannot benefit.
Cases have already been reported where some officials even sleep in Government vehicles in order to avoid using their allowance for accommodation while others share rooms on trips, especially abroad, with the intention of saving foreign currency.
Those who go on trips to supplement their monthly income normally resort to things such as keeping their meals strictly to canned beef (and maybe bread) throughout their trip.
The end result is that a large portion of an S&T allowance is going towards financing own personal costs.
It is important that Government takes tighter rein on trips and that supervisors become more strict.
For this to happen, leaders such as Prime Minister Nahas Angula need to call the shots and ensure abuse is kept to a minimum.
He and others must demand regular reports on S&T expenses and seriously curb the culprits.
Also, Namibians should demand that either President Hifikepunye Pohamba or Angula, as the leaders of Government business, give regular briefings to account as to how we are doing at S&T level.
My call is not merely to cut S&T expenses but to ensure that those who go on trips do so only when it is essential and the trip will contribute towards improved governance. Ultimately, it will be for the benefit of the people we serve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Workers Must Oust Napwu Leadership

‘NAPWU defies own constitution’, reads the latest headline of a news report on the troubled union for public servants.

There were others like ‘Workers lose confidence in Napwu’ in earlier reports.
Yet, the leaders of the Namibia Public Workers’ Union (Napwu) seem not to realise that they are messing up and that change is needed.
Napwu members need to get rid of people who have long lost the passion to fight for their interests. Many of the leaders only use the offices they occupy as stepping stones to Parliament or other political appointments.
Also, others have demonstrated that their only interest is to ensure that they use the Napwu ticket to make money as directors of organisations, exploit the union to muscle themselves through to higher Swapo structures and use the office telephone to make calls that will line their briefcase companies up for lucrative deals.
Therefore, it is up to the members to now stand up for their rights and demand that the union hold its long-awaited congress to elect new leadership.
Napwu vice president Moses Ikanga was this week quoted as saying that they cannot hold the congress this year due to “logistical difficulties”. But Ikanga knows of other reasons, I am sure.
He is a unionist who has shown he will take no prisoners when it comes to standing up for membership.
That was why he supported a demonstration of workers who demanded action over the Government Institutions’ Pension Fund issue and were shouting “down Nevonga, down” in reference to Napwu general secretary Petrus Nevonga who sits on the GIPF board.
Before the demonstration Ikanga had also held a media briefing where he asked Napwu leadership who they were protecting in the GIPF saga.
Fellow leaders and Napwu employees reportedly did not like that and tried to initiate a disciplinary action against him but Ikanga hit back by stating that the terms of office of those who wanted to discipline him had long expired and therefore he was unfazed by the vote of no confidence in him.
He had also questioned the constitutionality of the regional meeting which was planned to discuss his position and so it all collapsed.
He is not the right person to speak on behalf of the union even though he is the vice president.
I am sure that he is among those who want the congress as in yesterday already because of differences he has with some of them.
What his case showed was the lack of respect which some of the Napwu leaders have for their constitution.
Those who deliberately delay the Napwu congress until next year fear that holding it at such a crucial moment, when members are not happy about issues such as the GIPF, will cost them their positions.
These same people have protection from seniors in the ruling Swapo Party because they are the ‘right campaigners and voting cattle’ at the party’s elective congresses. Therefore, the seniors will conveniently ignore the workers’ calls for change at Napwu for the time being.
I can thus safely say that the Napwu congress will only take place after the Swapo congress when the work has been done at that meeting.
That will be so unless the workers stand up and demand a congress now as is stipulated in the Napwu constitution.
Workers should not condone mediocre service from their elected leaders nor should they allow their employees like the general secretaries to pull them around by their noses.
It is within their right to demand the resignation of those who want to delay the congress. They should stand up and be counted and the time is now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

We Suffer From Terrorism Paranoia

FOR years Namibia's intelligence services were abused for political ends but in 1990 the new political leaders promised that never again would those in power be placed in a position to misuse the state apparatus not only to spy on their political opponents, but also to harass people.

We seem to have reneged on that promise.
Nowadays I get the impression that we have paranoia about terrorism and see a possible suspect behind every other bush.
I based my introduction on various recent personal experiences as well as those of friends who keep complaining about how their private calls and short messages from cellphones are intercepted.
And this will probably intensify as we come nearer to next year's Swapo congress. Whenever a Swapo congress comes up, the intelligence machinery goes into top gear with various personnel spying on others for either those in charge of campaigns or for candidates themselves.
Apart from circumscribing freedom of information (which will have an inevitably negative impact on our freedom to communicate), another implication of such behaviour by officials from a certain agency is that it causes fear among people.
Just a few weeks ago there was a big workshop which brought together government officials, academics, practitioners, members of civil society, experts from international organisations and representatives from a number of countries to discuss the practical implementation of the UN global counter-terrorism strategy.
Various papers were presented at the workshop including one on money-laundering.
Despite the paper having being presented at the workshop, The Namibian has struggled for the past few weeks to get a copy of it.
Before being made available to The Namibian, it had to be 'cleared' by the Namibia Central Intelligence Agency and they refused to make it available to the newspaper.
This is the same agency whose operatives keep harassing the media for documents and other information on a continuous basis.
In the meantime, reports this week indicated that a group of Members of Parliament from the committee on defence and security were taken through a session to “sensitise them on security issues”.
Some of them were very impressed with what they were taught.
This is exactly the outcome the spies wanted because they did the training to win them over for when the spies do things in the name of national security.
The decision by intelligence to block the release of a paper which was presented at a public gathering shows the extent of the paranoia we have about terrorism.
Almost every document is seen as confidential and treated as such.
But we should be asking: Is the confidentiality we attach to some of these things absolutely necessary?
Why should we, for instance, deny the existence of a document which is freely accessible in a public office such as a Government ministry.
Such action only justifies the concerns raised by different media houses and media rights campaigners about the lack of access to information in Namibia.
While those who block the media access to information use the lack of such legislation to their advantage, they are the same people who violate laws such as the amended Communications Act which calls on them to get a court order if they want to, for instance, intercept information.
Such things smack of hypocrisy and cannot be left unchallenged.
I know that Namibia was not the first country with a Communications Act which facilitated the interception of information and that those who are for it argue that it has mainly to do with ‘international terrorism’ and cyber crime.
However, we seem to exaggerate our actions against terrorism to the extent that we have now reached levels of paranoia that do not seem warranted right now.

The President Who Can’t Do Anything

I HAVE said it before and I will repeat myself again. President Hifikepunye Pohamba is too soft an individual to effectively fight corruption.

He has repeatedly vowed to fight it tooth and nail but in almost all cases where he should have taken bold steps, he falls short.
This past weekend the President was opening a lodge near Grootfontein and used the platform to complain about how the formerly disadvantaged Namibians sell off fishing and mining rights which they are given in order to economically empower them for the future. He has also spoken out on corruption on many occasions.
We know that Pohamba’s inaugural speech in 2005 was centred on his intention to fight corruption. He had also promised to release reports of various commissions of inquiry established to investigate corruption in different sectors but nothing has come of his pledge.
In my view, the answers to all of Pohamba’s problems are simple. There is no need for him to complain on public fora.
He has appointed ministers to oversee certain functions he cannot take on because he has to delegate some of the enormous work load.
Therefore, he just needs to call them in and demand answers.
If a minister fails to do his or her work, he must give a stern warning and show the door to repeat offenders. It is as simple as that!
But the problem we have is the secrecy with which Pohamba goes about doing things.
For instance, when he appointed ministers for his second term, we were told that all were given a terms of reference (ToR) and that each one was supposed to report on a three-month basis on the progress of their mandate to Pohamba.
It is something I commended him for because I expected ministers to take similar action in the conduct of senior management cadre in Government. If implemented correctly, it should have improved service delivery by Government.
But with the ToR treated as a ‘top secret’ between Pohamba and his fellow Cabinet members, we on the outside can’t hold them accountable.
That is why, for instance, the media can only point out the extravagant travels of ministers while we do not necessarily know how many of those trips are approved by the President and the types of motivation given for them.
The test of leadership is the extent to which those in power bring integrity to our public institutions. And one way of doing that is to be transparent about things such as trips.
But because we are living in a society where cash and materialism is used as a compass for progress, Pohamba now struggles to exert pressure on people he has appointed and surrounds himself with.
The result is what we continue to see. Pohamba using public platforms to ‘cry’ for help when he is the solution to some of the problems.
Had he revealed the ToR of ministers, for example, the electorate would have been empowered to ask questions and help him put pressure on fellow leaders who divert money which could have been used for development projects in thoughtless and self-destructive ways such as uncontrolled travelling and high claims of subsistence and travel (S&T) allowances.
As things are now, not only ministers but others such as those who benefitted from the Black Economic Empowerment schemes will continue to milk the system until it runs dry.
There is hardly any indication that the culture of entitlement which gripped us will loosen its hold in the immediate future.
At least not until people like the President tackle issues head on.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Khorixas Group Must Step Aside

THE Ministry of Regional and Local Government’s decision not to act against those arrested and charged with corruption at Khorixas borders on hypocrisy.

The Government spends millions on infrastructural development in various regions and also assists local authorities with bailouts whenever they are in trouble, yet the Ministry tells us that it does not want to get involved in driving out graft.
I do understand that the case in which the councillors and employees of Khorixas Town Council are involved might be regarded as sub judice and that they are not guilty until proven as such. Yet, it is best that they be removed from their work stations for now in order to ensure a smooth investigation and prevent any interference from their side.
As it is now, the chief executive officer, Nicodemus Gaeseb, corporate affairs and human resources officer Eben Xoagub, housing and property officer Daniel Geiseb, as well as councillors Berlinda Xoagus (who is the wife of the CEO and a former NamPost postmaster) and Elrey Esau, stand accused of concocting a fake tender to help cover a cash shortage at the local post office.
They are charged along with Jeremias Kheimseb, Isaskar Ganeb and Reverend Barry Goamub. Close to N$400 000 is allegedly involved.
As things stand now, all the employees and councillors have access to the Town Council offices.
In fact they report daily for work and continue as if nothing of the sort has happened.
For the Ministry to say that they cannot interfere is outright hypocrisy because Government has intervened in similar instances at other towns and villages.
Mind you, some of those who are suspected in the case have rights to sign Council cheques and thus have access to millions, such as money for capital projects and the build together scheme which runs in Khorixas.
Also, history can prove that lower-ranked employees in the Khorixas Town Council were suspended for things such as petrol theft the minute such acts were discovered.
Ideally, and if those suspected of involvement in the case were serious about the fight against corruption, they would have stood aside when the Anti-Corruption Commission moved in with the investigation.
That is why I am also baffled at the fact that Swapo, for instance, has not suspended their councillors, Xoagus and Esau.
In 2004, when Joel Kaapanda was still the Minister of Regional and Local Government, the Government vowed to weed out corruption in local councils and declared the era of State bailouts for embattled municipalities over.
After each election the Ministry also spends around N$500 000 on a series of induction workshops for new councillors countrywide. Such workshops are aimed at sensitising the new councillors not to fall into the same traps of corruption and mismanagement of Government resources.
Yet, after spending such amounts and when even more goes missing, the Government throws up its arms in impotence.
That is unacceptable.
Similarly political parties should bury their heads in the sand, because when the people rise up, the same politicians blame them for not following procedures.
This in effect leaves the people without the voice or the means to remove the corrupt and keeps the masses in conditions that cement the propensity for failure and poverty.
When towns such as Okahandja and Rehoboth had problems, the Government intervened to the extent that even the CEO and Mayor were removed.
Why can’t the same be applied at Khorixas?
I am saying this because it affects the confidence people have in the leadership and management of the town. And it should not stop at Khorixas!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Need For Clear Division Between Party And State

"COMRADE, if after TIPEEG (Targeted Investment Programme for Employment and Economic Growth) you still remain poor, then you are really stupid."

These were the words recently uttered by a senior Government employee who is key to the implementation of the N$14.6-billion, three-year programme which is reportedly earmarked to create 104 000 direct jobs and help Government to reduce the unemployment rate, which now stands at 51.2 per cent.
Tons of ink have already been spilled analysing the possible impact which TIPEEG could have on the country's socio-economic status and I don't intend to dwell too much on it.
But it is worthwhile to mention that even though so much had been written about TIPEEG and its expected outcomes, such as the 646 projects through this year's Development Budget, the real impact will only be felt in the long run.
That, though, does not mean that calls to have a more open discussion about TIPEEG and its tenders and spending must be ignored. More so, after remarks such as those made by a senior Government employee who is known to be a schemer of deals in his own interest.
The Director General of the National Planning Commission, Tom Alweendo, is on record as saying that companies who employee local people will get preference, with the employment of Namibians a prerequisite.
I do not doubt that both Alweendo and Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila had the best of intentions for TIPEEG but there are similarly many others, like the person I quoted in the introduction, who have transformed some of the Ministries and other Government institutions into a cesspit of corruption.
For them, it is their 'time to eat' and I am almost sure that Swapo Party Youth League secretary, Elijah Ngurare, had these tenderpreneurs in mind when he asked recently: "Where is TIPEEG?"
He was concerned that TIPEEG would be used only to “score political points” while the “bread-and-butter issues”, such as youth and rural empowerment, would be pushed to the back burner.
Ngurare also called on his “comrades deployed in Government” to pursue the party’s 2009 election manifesto, instead of “personal manifestos or self-enrichment”.
I am against the jobs-for-comrades scheme but I agree with Ngurare that TIPEEG should not be a self-enrichment scheme for a select few who have already made it their mission to keep information about the job creation programme away from others in order to benefit friends and family.
This is one of the main reasons why there needs to be a clear division between the party (in this case Swapo) and the State.
Some civil servants in top positions are running the State as a party with benefits filtering through to the politically connected and cronies.
When political parties win elections, they form governments to run the State. And so the party has every right to call, for instance, Ministers to account, but it does not have the right to step in and take over Government.
We should guard against the expansion of the role of the party well beyond that allowed for in our Constitution because the conflation of the party and State leads to the promotion of such things as the attitude of entitlement we see among civil servants like the one I quoted above and who sees TIPEEG as an enrichment scheme for tenderpreneurs.
And before I am accused of being an 'imperialist agent' whose main aim is to only criticise Swapo, I must state that the malaise is felt by many people and cannot be reduced to one political party only.
This entitlement attitude was seen in Khorixas where the Council was run like an extension of a UDF arm or wing for a long time, and also in the early years of Independence when Katima Mulilo under the DTA did the same.
The duties of top civil servants in decision-making positions should thus not equal the ability to divert State funds, whether through tenders or fraudulent activities, into own accounts and to live luxurious lives, or for the State to become nothing more than a collective piracy.
Greed, such as that displayed by the senior Government employee dealing with TIPEEG, is thus a deceptive monster that claws at the hearts of men and even ugly politicians.
We should avoid a situation where citizens will only look on as spectators, while senior public officials, who visit sections of Katutura (where hunger truly lives) once in a while from their elitist suburbs to caress their emotions about being close to the people, feed at the trough.
One way to do it is through a clear division between the party and the State.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Is The ECN Naive Or Simply Arrogant?

THERE is no logic behind the Electoral Commission of Namibia taking political parties challenging the 2009 general elections to the High Court in an effort to recover N$1,3 million they spent on staff overtime payments. The whole debacle which resulted in the challenge (like the one in 2004 and even previous years) was the making of the ECN itself.

If they had done their work properly, no political party or politician in their right mind would have resorted to the steps taken by the All People’s Party (APP), Congress of Democrats (CoD), DTA, Republican Party (RP), Namibia Democratic Movement for Change (NDMC), Nudo, the Democratic Party of Namibia (DPN), Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), and the United Democratic Party (UDF).
There is no doubt that there were too many logistical and organisational deficiencies in the ECN even before the voting started in December 2009.
The performance of many of the officials during the election was not up to standard, the voters’ roll was a real mess, there were just too many tendered ballots and the system for the counting and verification of ballots was hardly anything to write home about.
Among others, the above resulted in the announcement of the final election results a week after polls closed.
For a country of two million people of which between 900 000 to 1,3 million (depending on which official of the ECN you talk to) are eligible voters, taking seven days to count is nothing but incompetence and will always cast a shadow of doubt over the fairness of such elections.
A good example for Namibia is the recent elections in Zambia where more than 5,1 million people were registered to vote and it took less time to count and release the final result. Yet their voting population was around five times more than ours.
If everything was above board in the manner in which the ECN conducted the 2009 elections, the High Court would not have ruled that there is sufficient grounds to give the opposition parties access to a range of electoral materials used in the elections to audit them for six days.
But the court did so because the election was riddled with irregularities. There are no two questions about that fact.
The nature of discrepancies emerging from the auditing of ballots cast in the 2009 National Assembly election also only confirmed what everyone else either suspected or observed and the parties could never be in the wrong for auditing what they regard as a flawed process.
Naturally, the ECN is expected to see the whole election process through.
That is why the ECN staff could obviously not take leave during the period of the inspection.
In any case, how often do we have elections for the ECN to grumble over work done outside their working hours and non payment? Should anyone even take such complaints seriously?
If anything, the ECN senior staff should be hold accountable for the mess in which we were two years ago.
Which leads me to the question of what the Commissioners have done to rectify the mistakes made in the last election – apart from holding endless workshops that is?
For instance, before the 2009 election, ECN senior staff had travelled extensively to observe and learn from other nations on how to conduct elections as well as equipment they use for smooth polling. I am reminded of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) from India.
Talk about those EVMs started two to three years before the 2009 election when Philemon Kanime was still the Director of Elections but it only emerged a couple of months ago that they will now be purchased for N$22 million.
The ECN would probably argue that they did not get the money from their superiors in Cabinet, but the fact is they cannot even properly budget for an election.
Two months before the 2009 election, for instance, ECN needed a bail-out of N$26,5 million to cater for a shortfall. That was on top of the N$180 million they received as part of the annual budget. The reason was said to be ‘underestimation of funds’.
A year later, the ECN was again at it overspending during the regional and local elections by around N$40 million.
The above shows a clear lack of organisational skills and instead of trying to shift the blame or fighting the opposition parties over overtime payments, it is time for proper management by the ECN hierarchy.
My hope is that the new Commissioners will do just that and not get bogged down in unnecessary politicking.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Life can be a ‘lotto’ fun without gambling

SLOWLY Namibian society continues to get hooked on gambling while many of us spend hours pondering how to fight corruption, alcohol abuse, violence and other evils.

Gambling has yet to reach the high-water mark in Namibia but it has already contributed to many personal financial tragedies with a legalised gambling avalanche in progress.
A casual walk along Windhoek’s famous Eveline Street easily reveals slot machines chiming 24 hours a day. The scene replicates itself in many suburbs where the majority of those who live there are poor. Just the illegal machines alone in Namibia already top the 10 000 mark.
Such machines are located mainly in shebeens which are often in the proximity of homes and schools. There’s no way the youth, for instance, can escape them.
But gambling is not limited to the poor only.
It has spread like wildfire and even ministers, deputy ministers, judges, teachers and others in the top echelons of society have been seen gambling their hard-earned dollars away.
Some, especially slot machine owners, say it is a hugely profitable business.
Others, like the jailed former official of the Ministry of Environment Sackey Namugongo, also benefitted, although illegally and to a lesser extent.
While the Government had put a moratorium on the issuing of gambling licences, Namugongo was selling them to desperate prospective machine owners who were willing to bribe him with amounts as much as N$60 000.
Some of the payments were allegedly meant to help speed up the licence issuing process although the moratorium was still in place!
Be that as it may be, gambling – whether with machines or through national lotteries – shouldn’t be something we should entertain.
Hundreds of families lose savings, property or belongings through gambling while couples are either separated or divorced as a direct result of it.
It is a fact that compulsive gambling introduces a greatly heightened level of stress and tension into families while pathological gambling leads to child abuse and domestic violence.
When a partner gambles, the other person has to take on more jobs or other responsibilities in the hope to raise more funds. This, inevitably, leads to burn-out.
But the worst part is seeing prominent members of society gambling everything away and dying in poverty or leaving behind nothing for their families.
I am concerned because Government is in the process of coming up with a national lottery.
We are told that the lottery will be a form of revenue but it could be a fatal mistake because of not only long-term social costs, but also for its assault on our national soul.
Coming up with a national lottery, for instance, can never be a solution to the evils facing our country. It is more a quick fix for the Government who will collect revenue, but the long-term impact of gambling will be very destructive.
And setting aside some small portions of the lottery profits for public awareness programmes is almost like promoting responsible smoking or responsible drinking.
Some of the stringent controls currently under consideration with the Gaming and Entertainment Control Bill are, among others, the raising of the legal gambling age from 18 to 21 and the introduction of tougher penalties to protect minors and gamblers.
I understand that provision is also made for a register of gambling addicts, where addicts and their families can apply for such people to be barred from gambling houses.
The best that such controls can do is to take a small part of guilt away from those who come up with the initiatives and those who pass such laws.
But the resultant damage of disintegrated families, bankrupt people, suicides and other negatives gambling causes can never be compensated for by a Government who simply promotes so-called ‘responsible’ gambling while pocketing millions in blood money.
There should be other ways to raise revenue for the Government while people can have more fun other than working the slot machines.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ithana Has A Strategy For Geingob

IN July 2009 Swapo’s Central Committee took a resolution which, at first glance, looked like it was effectively paving the way for Hage Geingob to succeed President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

The rules and procedures passed with the resolution for the election of Swapo’s office bearers clearly defined the line of succession and stated that the party’s presidential candidate would come from the top four party leaders in order of seniority.
Party insiders, especially the youth wing who moved the proposal, argued that the documented line of succession would avoid what happened at the 2004 Swapo extraordinary congress where Pohamba went head-to-head with Hidipo Hamutenya, after Prime Minister Nahas Angula fell out in the first round.
The acrimony around the tussle for the position was so bad it led to Hamutenya ultimately leaving Swapo to form the Rally for Democracy and Progress.
The rules and procedures state that if the sitting President cannot be re-elected because of the two-term constraint, the ruling party’s vice president will be the automatic choice as presidential candidate.
Geingob, being the current vice-president of the ruling party, just needed to hold onto the position at the 2012 Swapo congress to be in line to contest the country’s presidency for the 2014 presidential elections.
The rules are also clear that in the case of the vice president not being available, the secretary general is next, followed by the deputy secretary general in case the SG cannot stand or declines.
The secret, however, was for Geingob to hold onto the position he currently occupies.
Those in the party’s inner circles regarded such ‘holding onto’ as ‘very easy’. He was just required to remain quiet - not campaigning and going about his work as Trade Minister while diligently attending party functions.
But those supporting Geingob must have got wind from somewhere or did not trust the party inner circle enough and started campaigning openly.
One of those is Kazenambo Kazenambo who made no secret of the fact that Geingob should be the next leader of the ruling party. In the process he ruffled a lot of feathers.
Geingob has not openly stated his ambition to take over when Pohamba steps down but it is no secret that he is after the position.
It is also a fact that, although there are others, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana has emerged as his immediate challenger.
The party’s secretary general has repeatedly attempted to play the ‘if people want me’ and ‘it is not the right time’ card. That is at least in public, but she has been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes campaigning among the party wings.
We know that in Swapo, to progress at the electoral college, you need to hide your ambitions as much as possible in public circles.
That’s Ithana’s recipe for now, coupled with the fact that it is time for a first female President of Namibia.
But it should be on record that both Geingob and Ithana have gone all-out with their campaign and that both are not holding back in their attempt to be the presidential candidate of Swapo.
Meetings are held on a one-on-one basis with key people while the machinery is running at full steam to get the right people at section, branch and regional levels.
The aim is to have enough people in the right places when the party’s wings elect people who will attend the electoral college.
So when Ithana publicly states that ‘it is not the right time’ to talk about succession or that the people have not yet decided, this is merely a strategy and nothing else.
She has already informed the people that she is ready to stand. As has Geingob.
It will be interesting to see who else, if anyone, will join them in the race and if so, what strategy such a person will employ.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Aussenkehr’s Farmers: Out And Back Into Poverty

LET us not beat about the bush here.

The issue is not whether the small-scale farmers at Aussenkehr's State-owned Orange River Irrigation Project (ORIP) have failed. That is not what brought about steps to evict them. It is all about their resistance to being manipulated and hoodwinked into enriching a small group of individuals based in the offices of the Agriculture Ministry.
The grape farmers owe more than N$3 million to Agribank and Coolfresh - a service provider appointed by the Government to help the people produce and market their products abroad.
Coolfresh was appointed in 2009 by the Ministry of Agriculture after the previous service provider reportedly mismanaged the marketing of the grapes produced by the small-scale farmers.
Because of the mismanagement, the small-scale farmers were reportedly N$2,5 million in the red at Agribank and Coolfresh agreed to pay off that debt before taking over as service provider.
Coolfresh reportedly paid a total of N$1,5 million in June last year towards a portion of each farmer's debt but the remaining N$1 million was not paid over.
Coolfresh claimed the farmers violated their agreement with them and they could not continue to pay their debts.
According to the agreement the farmers were supposed to market their produce through Coolfresh alone. The ORIP farmers have reasons for bypassing the Dutch-owned Coolfresh. They claim the service provider is impoverishing them and monopolising their farming.
Coolfresh International reportedly discontinued the N$4 000 a month the farmers used to receive as part of their “advance payment” on their profits, but were still expected to pay for and use the services from Coolfresh Namibia, who asked for a five per cent surcharge on all services provided to the farmers.
They also accuse Coolfresh Namibia of keeping them in the dark on the particulars of their financial status, only providing basic forms stating income and expenditure, while leaving the farmers at the mercy of Coolfresh’s business decisions.
Coolfresh said they withdrew monthly payments from the farmers when they breached the contract by selling dates to another buyer.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Coolfresh subsequently came up with a tripartite agreement (which, by the way, the Ministry negotiated on behalf of the farmers instead of they themselves). The agreement gave total control of the farmers’ cash flow and business decisions to Coolfresh.
This means that the farmers who were empowered are now being disempowered.
This after Coolfresh was given the right to market their produce and failed to lift the people out of poverty.
As the new tripartite agreement stands now, it will only benefit Coolfresh and Agribank, whose debts will be paid off.
The farmers, however, claim that Coolfresh also owes them money for their produce and the Ministry of Agriculture is not moving an inch to help them recover those funds but instead hammers them for not paying Coolfresh and Agribank.
How can Coolfresh run the business side of ORIP while the farmers are supposed to take responsibility for their accounts? Why should Agribank threaten them when they know very well that Coolfresh takes all their profit and gives them peanuts as change. Their destiny is not in their own hands.
The big question thus is: to whose benefit is the Coolfresh deal? Why is Coolfresh claiming that the farmers are under training while the Ministry officials like Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi regard them as masters of their own destiny? A debt of N$3 million among 20 farmers amounts to around N$150 000 which each one of them owes.
I am sure Agribank is owed bigger debts than that and Government has lost millions without taking such drastic steps against others.
While Ndishishi was at Trade as PS, N$100 million vanished without trace but nothing happened to call for his suspension.
I am not arguing that people who accumulate debts should not be traced and held accountable. No.
But nobody should be more equal than others and someone needs to start standing up for the rights of the farmers.
The group are just demanding their due on the basis that their produce is worth what they sell it for.
But people like Ndishishi, a regular at the election results centre after every five years with a brief hardly anybody knows about, are busy destroying the exact purposes for which ORIP was established - the empowerment of the people.
The end result of such action is the promotion of the growing unemployment problem.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Roads Are A Dice With Death

CABINET this week announced the formation of a special committee to investigate the causes of the road carnage in Namibia, as hundreds of people are being needlessly killed and maimed because of the way others drive.

Travelling on Namibian roads is to play dice with death. Road safety is not only what you do to the community (in terms of heavy fines and penalties) but it is what we do with the community.
The Cabinet decision to launch a two-week investigation is a welcome one but Cabinet members, for one, need to slow down and lead by example. Often you come across their vehicles speeding recklessly.
At some stage Members of Parliament debated the carnage and some argued that there was a need to change the law to allow those with fast cars a 160 km/h speed limit.
Yet, most accidents come about as a result of speeding, dangerous driving, overtaking, general recklessness and drunk driving.
It is a fact that even in cases where drivers have little control, such as an animal on the road, they can prevent death and destruction if they keep to speed limits.
Some of Namibia’s roads have turned into valleys of death. Here I refer to the Otjiwarongo/Otavi road; the Grootfontein-Rundu road; the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay road; the Windhoek-Rehoboth stretch and the Tses-Keetmanshoop road. On those roads the murderous carnage has become a continuous nightmare to many families and to the authorities as well.
One reason for such depressing and monotonous news is corruption in certain traffic departments which continues to plague the country’s fight against the carnage.
Some officers continue to take or solicit bribes in exchange for licences for people who can hardly keep a car on the correct side of the road while changing gears.
You see the result of such corruption almost every day in the city: Some people are not even capable of getting into or out of a parking bay.
Heavy-duty traffic at night also continues to cause havoc.
Recently Cameroon banned night-time public transport between cities after a spate of deadly accidents, many involving drunk driving on the country’s infamously poor roads.
Apparently night traffic in Cameroon only represents about 5 per cent of human transport, but 35 per cent of road accidents.
Not all truck drivers, for instance, are bad at what they do but many transport companies need to reconsider their recruitment policies.
They need to hire qualified, competent drivers to minimise the carnage on the country’s roads. Some drivers are hired simply because they have driver’s licences and sometimes these are illegally acquired! Some companies also fail to have regular inspections of the roadworthiness of their vehicles.
Some of the issues I mentioned continue to be covered by regular campaigns.
The best way to avoid accidents has always been not to rush and to leave for destinations timeously.
Members of the public must also be vigilant and report to the authorities those who break the law.
We find too many drivers with devil-may-care attitudes on our roads.
The worst group remain our taxis and the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association needs to read the riot act to colleagues instead of all the infighting going on. There is a need to threaten taxi drivers into obedience!
Some simple math tells us the following: If roughly 2 000 registered taxis each commit one unlawful driving act an hour, carrying four passengers over an eight-hour working day, there are 80 000 illegal instances every day to which Namibians are subjected.
That is why in 2007 while he was Transport Minister Joel Kaapanda expressed concern about the number of illegal taxis on Namibian roads and called them “death traps”.
But as soon as the campaign is intensified against illegal taxis, owners start crying and we have also seen violent demonstrations because of that.
In a lot of instances, taxis are involved in avoidable accidents which turn out to be costly to both the Government and the people.
What is needed is a sustained approach of removing arrogance and danger from our roads through the rigorous application of heavy fines for all road users.
Our roads will continue to play a dice with death as long as authorities deal leniently with road hogs, drunk drivers and vehicles that are not roadworthy.
Road safety should be everyone’s business.

Friday, September 9, 2011

National Council In Walvis Bay: For Work Or On Holiday?

THE last time I attended and covered the National Council, I ended up in hospital. It was so boring that the pain I’d had for two days intensified to the extent that I was booked into hospital for a minor operation.

Just 30 minutes of sitting in the public gallery of the National Council could easily make you age! There should be a way to make the debates livelier and more colourful.
I am thus in two minds over the decision by the lawmakers to move part of their next session to Walvis Bay. It is a great decision to take Parliament to the people and will be historic as it will be the first regional session of the National Council outside Windhoek.
But will their discussions become more inspiring, colourful and robust? I doubt that.
You hardly get enlightened debates from the National Council as our MPs are guilty of not doing research on some of the topics on the table.
Speeches are quickly scribbled on small pieces of paper and while you can clearly see that the piece of paper in the MP's hand has two or three written words, they go on speaking for longer than the time allocated to them.
Now, I don't say people should not have scribbled pieces of paper. I admire people who speak off the cuff, especially when they make sense.
A recent example of such people was the Ghanaian President John Ata Mills. What a pleasure to have watched him speaking without looking at notes but making very good sense on diplomacy, economics and other pertinent issues.
But, when someone is droning into a microphone, as do many of our Parliamentarians, it is a waste of time and other resources.
I am told that the National Council will have two-and-a-half hour meetings in Walvis Bay from September 13 to 22. This is apparently part of the objectives in the strategic plan.
On the agenda is, among others, discussion on the Industrial Property Bill as well as standing committee reports.
I am not far off the mark if I say that 95 per cent of those in the National Council have not read the 125-page document which was passed by Cabinet in 2005 already and only got to the National Council now.
Yet it is an important bill which, although not written to entertain, provides for the registration and protection of patents, industrial designs and trademarks.
The least we can expect from our Parliamentarians is to provide lively debates even if they hardly make sense. There are hardly foes in the National Council, because it is an almost 100 per cent Swapo gathering, but cutting each other down to size with colourful language can work instead of the 'sleep-for-pay' sessions.
The move to Walvis Bay will be a costly one. The MPs will get travel and subsistence fees as well as accommodation money on top of their sitting allowances. Staff of the National Council as well as those who will do the recording must also travel to the coast.
As the MPs arrive in Walvis Bay, they will probably drive straight to the sea and throw in coins to greet ancestors before heading to their hotels for lavish dinners.
During the sessions they will waste all their energies on trivia like complaining about how their work (like properly scrutinising recommended legislation) is crippled by a small budget, lack of NBC coverage and how we should maintain peace and tranquility in the country.
Are those not perhaps just convenient ways of deflecting attention from what they are not doing?
I don't think they need additional funds for MPs to read through proposed legislation. Do they?
Unless our MPs prepare well for the coastal session, it will turn out to be an expensive exercise and a time of much yawning, much like the ones in Windhoek.
As a result an opportunity to show the coastal community how committed they are to the work will be wasted while thousands of dollars will go down the drain.
It is for the MPs to prove me wrong.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Namdeb Dispute: A Lose-Lose Situation

THAT the Bogenfels dispute and industrial action was allowed to run on for more than 15 days, in the process causing losses of N$50 million to Namdeb and Government, is beyond my understanding.

The company informed the media this week that N$40 million of the N$50 million which went down the drain through the industrial dispute had been destined for the State coffer.
Looking at news coming from Namdeb and the Mineworkers’ Union of Namibia corridors, the dispute is not a simple disagreement over housing and other allowances. More so after MUN Oranjemund branch secretary Gert Iikela said workers would continue their strike, described as illegal by the company, until the company’s general manager, Mitford Mundell, was removed.
The workers are calling for Mundell’s head because he allegedly compromises safety at the mine and does not respect the interests of the Namibian workers.
I believe Mundell is but a scapegoat and that the Namdeb sparkle will fade even further unless the deep-rooted differences are solved.
Such differences are, unfortunately, not limited to Namdeb.
In almost every parastatal we see ‘fat-cat clubs’ living large while the workers at grassroots level struggle to make ends meet.
Think about it: how much will it cost Namdeb to give the group of workers the allowances they want? Juxtapose that against how much the company is losing daily because of the strike.
I do not want to promote illegal action by workers. I am against unruly behaviour but there is a need to look closely at how polarised our society is. So much so that it prevents us from addressing the root of our economic troubles: the continuing stagnation of ordinary workers’ incomes despite rising corporate profits, wages of the elite and, to some extent, worker productivity.
Ok, it could be a principle issue for Namdeb not to bow to what they see as unnecessary pressure by the workers. They probably do not want to set a precedent.
But do we generally ever see grossly overpaid executives go on strike? Why not?
Exactly because they have remuneration which ensures that members of the ‘fat-cat club’ are well paid without having to haggle over the millions they deny the ordinary workers.
On the other hand, the ordinary workers spend hours to threaten, toyi-toyi or even strike in order to earn a pittance, just to keep their heads above water. And as soon as the workers have their demands met, it is negated by the huge increases then awarded to members of the ‘fat-cat club’ while the price of necessities such as food and transport also take their toll.
It is why workers use strikes such as the Bogenfels one as a tool of leverage in labour-management conflicts, withholding their work to win fairer treatment and respect from recalcitrant employers.
Strikes such as these must not be taken lightly.
There is clearly a need for bosses to also tighten their belts. No one can dispute the fact that, in Namibia, inequality continues to deepen to levels not seen before.
This then has a ripple effect on the dependants of the ordinary workers who must scramble for a piece of the meagre salary.
If we do not look objectively at strikes such as the one at Bogenfels there is the risk that such events will become annual occurrences.
Let us thus not maintain poverty by failing to provide adequately for workers’ needs because it represents a shocking indictment of huge companies such as Namdeb in which the Government has majority shares.
As things stand currently, there is no winner at Namdeb. Neither the workers; nor the employer. It is a lose-lose situation. Something we can all avoid.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Executive Mayors: Shouldn’t Be A Jobs-For-Comrades Scheme

IT seems like it is a given that executive mayors will soon be appointed to run cities and towns alongside chief executive officers on a full-time basis.

I have my reservations about the pace of introduction, how the appointments will be made, affordability of the position as well as how the reporting channels would work.
Local Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo this week again announced his intentions to push through the appointment of executive mayors in full-time positions.
Local authorities are also pushing for the appointment of full-time councillors but that’s non-negotiable in my view. To do precisely what when there are already so many council employees? I’m not prepared to entertain the possibility.
Some countries have executive mayors but they come with very strict working conditions and goals.
I believe that Namibian councillors, especially in the management which is supposed to have a bird’s eye view of council operations, operate in a ‘meeting councillors’ environment. Their only major task currently is to attend meetings and many do not have an in-depth knowledge of the workings of councils.
Getting a full-time executive mayor will thus be slightly more affordable rather than put councillors on such terms.
Such a mayor should run with the implementation of decisions in tandem with a chief executive officer (CEO). If the two operate well together, it could improve the speed of implementation of decisions by the administration.
Currently, we have management committees but they are part-time and their monitoring of the implementation of decisions is limited to the times they meet.
Because of the dynamics of local authorities, I prefer that executive mayors be elected instead of being appointed by a Minister or the President. They must be accountable to the voters.
Having said that, it might be difficult for reporting systems because voters will have a tough time to measure the success of such a person since they do not always have access to information which will help them to do so.
However, if they are appointed directly by either the Minister or the President, clear goals can be set and regular assessments conducted to measure the implementation of such targets.
Currently, the President appoints regional governors.
My problem with the appointment of the governors is the lack of clarity on their accountability.
We have no idea about the goals set for them, how they are measured and what will happen if they are not achieved. Basically the same which applies to the Ministers, whom, we are told, supposedly report to the President (appointing authority) at quarterly intervals.
For transparency’s sake, President Hifikepunye Pohamba needs to reveal the targets he set for each Minister and governor upon his or her appointment. Are they just appointments or performance contracts, for instance? If someone does not perform, what happens to them? Can they be fired or will they continue to collect fat cheques until the five year cycle is completed?
If we don’t know their targets, they remain solely accountable to State House and not to the electorate.
When such circumstances prevail, governance becomes pathetic.
It is partly the reason why some regional councils as well as ministries operate on an ‘auto-pilot’ system. You hardly hear what some governors, for instance, do.
With executive mayors, we need to bring in efficiency.
For starters, get people with good educational backgrounds who will drive the economy of a town and have a good world-view.
You can’t give someone with a narrow view millions and expect them to deliver! You might lead them into corruption. In other words, we need to scale up big time to get better outcomes.
I must hasten to caution that the negative to an executive mayor would be that they can become too powerful through either close links with the CEO or staff members. In the process they can destroy a council.
Others could be engaged in constant in-fighting with staff or CEOs and this could be to the detriment of the entire council.
But what is certain is that we don’t need a jobs-for-comrades scheme or to just get cadres of the ruling party in a opposition-dominated council. That also shouldn’t be the objective of executive mayors.
Those in authority need to think thoroughly before pushing through the changes to the appointment of executive mayors.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Succession In The Opposition: Time For Some To Make Way

IN less than four years Namibians will head back to the polling stations to elect a new president.

But too much time is spent on the Swapo succession race when there are other parties which need to get their houses in order.
The Rally for Democracy and Progress, DTA of Namibia, United Democratic Front of Namibia and the National Unity Democratic Organisation all need new leaders if they are to be agents of change in the coming elections.
Together with Swapo, the political parties need not only to look for a younger president but also involve youth in the country’s mainstream politics.
Currently Namibians are preoccupied with everyday worries from the scores of people flocking the rubbish dumpsites to make ends meet with what other people see as health-hazardous garbage, hundreds of thousands who don’t have jobs, or enough to eat, or clean water, or a roof over their heads, or access to quality education and safe neighbourhoods and access to healthcare.
So a debate about a presidential candidate, especially in the opposition political parties, will probably be eclipsed by concerns about these tough economic times and how people struggle just to hold on to what they have.
But politics is also a bread and butter issue.
Whoever takes office as a leader of the country, in most cases, decides the path the rest of the country takes in future.
Thus, even if, judging by the current political environment, it might not look like the opposition will take over State House in three years’ time, there is nevertheless a need for introspection for those parties.
Before I look at what’s available and throw in some younger names as possible options, I need to point out that opposition parties need to move away from ‘opposition politics’ which is built on statements and rallies focussed mainly on criticising Swapo rather than rallying the masses to provide change from grassroots.
That is also one of the main reasons why many parties are dying a slow and painful death. Most will look like the real ‘new kid on the block’ for a year, or at most three, but quickly start to fade away, giving voters very little, if any, optimism.
Thus, unless opposition parties get beyond the attitude of criticism to build an alternative that will resonate with the majority, Swapo might well rule until “Jesus comes back”, as one of the party leaders recently said.
At Independence the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance was Namibia’s main opposition with 21 seats in the National Assembly. Today they have only two.
The party went on a serious backwards slide.
Current leader Katuutire Kaura (70) took over in 1999 after Mishake Muyongo went into exile following the Caprivi secession.
Under Kaura the support base did not only gradually thin out but the National Unity Democratic Organisation and Republican Party left the DTA.
Kaura is a well-oiled speaker and someone with good ideas, but his time at the party’s helm is up.
In 2005 the young McHenry Venaani prematurely challenged him but Kaura managed to see him off in style.
In fact, Venaani’s challenge also cost him the party’s secretary general position and ultimately a seat in the National Assembly where he had made mature input during debates.
With the experience he picked up, Venaani could be a good candidate who will not only draw votes from his tribal background, but also from people, young and old, who want intelligent debate and action.
Another leader whose time is long up is Justus //Garoeb (69 year in December) who heads UDF since 1989.
//Garoeb is a respected politician by both friend and foe in the National Assembly but he is hardly there!
Also, under him the UDF has lost appeal – losing members of the alliance as well as a number of seats in Parliament.
UDF has a couple of leaders they can rely. Among them is Sebastian !Gobs (43) – the regional councillor for Khorixas and someone who has shown vigour.
Another candidate would be the Kamanjab constituency councillor Dudu Murorua (who will be 53 in a few days). The former governor of Kunene has shown the leadership required to rejuvenate the party. He is far from the truck driver and farm foreman that he was at some point during his youth.
I also believe that the next ballot papers should not carry the image of Kuaima Riruako (76).
Not only is he the oldest Member of Parliament, but there is a need for the Nudo leader to follow his age-mate President Hifikepunye Pohamba when he retires.
Even though Arnold Tjihuiko (61) is not so young anymore, he has been very vocal in the National Assembly and could push on for a few more years.
I am sure that, just as Nudo surprised us with Tjihuiko appearing second on their list in 2004, they have other candidates in the offing.
If Hidipo Hamutenya (72) harboured aspirations of forming an own party or leading an opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress came a bit late for him.
The former Minister, with many years of experience in international diplomacy, was followed out of the party by a host of his supporters. Even before he left, Jesaya Nyamu (three years Hamutenya’s junior) became the first senior Swapo figure to be expelled since 1990.
Nyamu took the beatings for his former high school mate Hamutenya but the former Minister of Trade and also Mines, who defended Epupa and Ramatex vigorously, is not exactly young enough to take over the leadership.
Again, RDP also have scores of more youthful leaders waiting in the wings.
But the youngbloods can only emerge once others have made room.
It makes sense, and it is the right time, for the above leaders to make way.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Messing With The Press

THERE is a disturbing new trend in town. Journalists, already registered and accredited by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, are forced to get additional licensing for access to almost every event.

It’s one communication that Namibian journalists don’t want to get of late: a notice for accreditation. But that’s happening increasingly - almost on a fortnightly basis.
What those who do it don’t know is that it is illegal to demand accreditation to conferences. There is no law permitting the authorities to demand that journalists have those unnecessary cards which pile up on their desks every week.
Not only are the cards unnecessary because the journalists are already accredited with the ICT ministry, but also because it is such a hassle to get them.
Government argues that the registration and accreditation of journalists is undertaken to ‘empower’ them. It means they can access certain places such as State House with reasonable ease.
However, it is of no help when they have to re-do the process with the visit of every Head of State, Prime Minister, Minister or other foreign dignitary as well as almost every other local conference where they receive ham-handed treatment by organisers or those employed to facilitate the process.
Shouldn’t we embrace media coverage? If so, don’t curb it by making it difficult for journalists to have access to information.
In any case, the next morning, all those who made it such a mission for journalists to cover their events, still buy newspapers on their way to the offices to read about themselves or sit patiently in front of television each evening hoping to see coverage of these functions. They seek fame like bees seek honey but will not grant those who will afford them such a chance easy access to information.
I tend to think that such people have political agendas that appear to be media headline driven while they are hyper security-conscious. For what reasons, I don’t know, because the closest a journalist has got to attacking a leader in the recent past was by throwing a shoe at George W Bush!
In most cases the accreditation process is so disorganised that the event starts or is over before the accreditation is finalised.
This because of faulty machinery, bad planning and unnecessarily tight security contributing to reporters struggling to secure their accreditation for admittance to such venues.
Personally, I have witnessed instances where several accreditation forms were submitted by people who were not even journalists! We call them spies or spooks.
I have no grudges if journalists are asked to get accreditation for a visiting Head of State or other Very Important Person (VIP) as our Government, like others the world over, is probably worried about terrorists or foreign intelligence operatives infiltrating such venues.
But there have been cases where even intelligence personnel circumvent security checks by supplying details of journalists or pretended to be working for certain institutions such as The Namibian and got away with the cards.
So why not use the already existing media cards? These are checked over time by the Ministry of Information and since we are a small population with an equally small group of scribes, almost everyone knowing the other. In any case, even the intelligence already have the details of most (controversial) journalists!
Judging from the amount of accreditation going on in the country, I have started wondering whether someone is not getting a kickback for giving out the job to a certain company.. Or who is making money from printing the cards which no one even looks at once conferences start?
The media, like any other profession, should abide by the laws of this country but we have the right to defend our turf when something illegal is imposed upon us and licensing is one of them.
As it is now, the accreditation process is just time-consuming, negatively affects production and deadlines and is just an outright waste of public funds.
Let's do away with it.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Of Rights And HIV Status

BENEFICIARIES of Lironga Eparu – Namibia’s biggest organisation of people living with HIV and AIDS – are struggling to make ends meet after funding was withdrawn due to alleged mismanagement while those who took the decision are guilty of the same practice but continue to live in luxury.

I was touched this week to read about the plight of people who used to benefit from Lironga Eparu (meaning ‘Learn to Survive’) but can no longer take their antiretrovirals because they go hungry.
These are the same 45 000-odd people who visit a health centre and wait almost a whole day for treatment as they must deal with an inconsistent primary healthcare system. They continue to face discrimination from relatives just because they decided to come out publicly about their status and daily face inequity in the society.
At the centre of everything is the fact that some in Lironga Eparu were accused of corruption and mismanagement.
Among others, it was alleged that the top management of the organisation earned “outrageous” salaries. The top three reportedly collected N$37 000, N$25 000 and N$18 000 a month. That is N$80 000 in total.
The Lironga Eparu board claimed that the withdrawal of Global Fund support was the result of personal grudges against its executive director, Emma Tuahepa-Kamapoha, and not necessarily mismanagement.
Earlier this year Moses Ikanga, the organisation’s board chairperson, said they were instructed to review the management structure, but that it has allegedly emerged that there was in fact a vendetta against Tuahepa-Kamapoha.
I have no reason not to believe Ikanga and it is a pity that we seem to have turned our backs on an organisation started by HIV-positive people. It feels like we have turned our backs on universal access to HIV treatment at this vital time when Namibia was and is seen as a model for access to HIV drugs in the world.
For me, the withdrawal of funding to Lironga Eparu means we have two parallel systems according to which we not only judge but also run the health system in Namibia. Unfortunately it is not only limited to health but is also seen to be taking place in other sectors.
Six months after Lironga Eparu leadership was accused of mismanagement reports emerged about a gravy train in the Global Fund Project Management Unit.
According to preliminary findings of a salary survey, the PMU’s operations manager earns N$105 116 while the head of finance in the same unit collects N$78 488. That is almost the same amount as the combined salary of the top three at Lironga Eparu.
The reason for the high salaries, we are told, is that the PMU staff wages were not part of the Global Fund grant negotiations with Namibia.
But it is morally wrong to withdraw funding to an organisation like Lironga Eparu and accuse them of mismanagement while nothing is basically done against those who are being paid even more money.
And why should Lironga Eparu pay peanuts for salaries just because those heading it are HIV positive?
I have always argued that HIV is not a death sentence.
A recent study by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS, and Canada’s University of British Columbia, has provided proof of this during the first of its kind research in Africa.
The study which focused on patients receiving therapy found that, by receiving antiretroviral treatment, a patient can expect to live a near normal life. But, crucially, the results applied only to people who had a healthy lifestyle and used their medication as prescribed.
Healthy lifestyle means, among others, eating before taking the medicine.
So taking away important funding to organisations such as to Lironga Eparu makes one wonder whether those who take such decisions actually go to hospitals or homes in Katutura, Tseiblaagte, Epako etc and see the almost lifeless bodies of our brothers and sisters fighting to breathe or do they remain in their air-conditioned offices and make such decisions? Do they have a clue about the impact of such decisions?
I am not saying that we should ignore corruption. Not at all.
But should government close down GIPF or the SSC because millions were mismanaged?
Why should the CEO of the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund earn around N$100 000 for managing and passing on Government (read ‘donor’) money while it is seen as wrong for Emma Tuahepa-Kamapoha – the poster girl of HIV in Namibia – to earn around N$37 000?
If one is (morally) wrong, all should be treated the same.
The Namibian Government has demonstrated commitment to meeting the treatment and prevention targets.
It would be a great pity if such political commitment to tackle HIV was undermined by events such as what is happening at Lironga Eparu.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Leave National Security Out Of It

‘TWO wrongs don’t make a right’, my colleague for the past 18-plus years, Jean Sutherland, always reminds us. It is wrong for Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga to declare the hidden cameras at the seal colony ‘a national threat’.

Ndeitunga drove almost 400 kilometres to the coast last week to hold a media briefing where he declared that the planting of cameras to film the culling of seals “was a threat to the sovereignty of the country”.
“If they managed to hide the cameras there, what stops them from putting a camera in a military base, at State House or near a Police station?” he was quoted as saying.
Come on General! You should and do know better than that.
As you rightly admitted the place was unguarded at night and anyone could go in to set up cameras. I don’t believe that part needed a sophisticated operation!
Now the Police are on alert and will guard the place at night!
There are more serious criminal activities going on. Undercover Police can, for instance, be deployed in areas known for attacks on citizens instead of them being fruitlessly deployed to freeze next to the sea at night, waiting for people who now know they should not enter that area.
By the way, Police and intelligence were tipped off about the Caprivi attack by newspaper reports, yet did not act quickly enough. And that was a national threat.
Ndeitunga missed the point big time. His first question should have been why people had set up the cameras in the first place.
His reaction should preferably have been to address the issue of access to the place and consequent free filming of the culling.
What is there to hide? Why do we not open up the place? Particularly since we justify the cull.
If the culling is done the right way and Namibia is the transparent country we are led to believe, it is the journalists and those with interest in the matter that you need to convert first.
The more we keep the curious people away, the more we create inquisitiveness and suspicion and drive them to install hidden cameras.
As it is now, a simple issue like seal culling is attracting the world’s attention. We have other important issues which could also attract such high level of interest.
Yup, that’s what it is. You are taking a country with truckloads of issues, finding the one it doesn’t have, and turning it into an issue.
Not that I agree with the campaigns of those who oppose seal culling in Namibia.
I have come across many activists who devote zillions of hours on causes such as animal rights protection and they do it in a manner which basically forces respect from governments.
But instead of dealing with the concerns of those who oppose the culling and educating others on the process followed to kill the seals, Ndeitunga has taken the route of a trick we have come to know from politicians because it’s easier to talk about national sovereignty than it is to deal with the mundane subjects of that same issue: transparency, access to information, openness and honesty.
Yes, the Constitution commits the Government to the “... maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes and biological diversity of Namibia and utilisation of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future ...”
The Ministry of Fisheries thus claims culling of the seals falls within the ambit of sustainable utilisation.
Others perhaps feel that culling is a source of revenue through the sale of the seal penises to countries in the Far East. The penises are dried, shaved, sprinkled with herbs and sold as aphrodisiacs. Apparently they fetch as much as N$7 000 a pound but there are questions over whether Government actually benefits from the sales.
Be that it may be, regarding the seal cull filming as a threat to the country’s safety is going overboard.
The Government or the Ministry of Fisheries have forced those who planted the cameras to the extreme.
In the past The Namibian applied for permission to go into the area but was denied access and told that no filming would be permitted during the harvesting of seals.
“If the Government decides for the coverage by the media, such a project will be awarded to State media institutions of which terms and conditions will be drafted and agreed upon in writing,” was the response of then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries, Frans Tsheehama.
So far the Government cannot quote any clause of the Marine Resources Act of 2000 governing media coverage of marine areas to justify the ban from the area.
It is this type of attitude which force others to resort to illegal activities such as filming with hidden cameras. But Ndeitunga’s response in calling it a national threat was equally wrong.
Two wrongs do not make a right!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Team Namibia: What Type Of Players Do We Need?

SWAPO has banned a public debate on the succession issue but discussions over who should take over from President Hifikepunye Pohamba continue in public places such as football pitches, bars and shebeens, shopping malls and mahangu fields.

It is the way it should be!
We cannot allow the party, undoubtedly the main political grouping in the country, to keep the debate away from non-members. There is a likelihood that the elected leader will be the person to steer the country's boat for five years and decisions taken by such a person will affect us all and not only Swapo members.
It is against such background that I have decided to throw in my ten cents' worth by looking at collective (team) leadership for the next five years.
I suggest that, instead of looking at individuals, aka Hage Geingob, Marco Hausiku, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Jerry Ekandjo, Utoni Nujoma or even Nahas Angula who has declared his intentions to retire, we look at the kind of team Swapo needs to re-energise itself and which will inspire Namibians.
In any case, and whatever people might think of former President Sam Nujoma's leadership style, he did have a team, although it included some questionable characters.
Nujoma was surrounded by the likes of Geingob as first Prime Minister, the calming influence of Pohamba and the late Hendrik Witbooi but also fiery ones like another departed comrade, Moses //Garoeb, while he even brought in someone like Otto Herrigel in the beginning to take care of the country's finances.
He would use someone like Pohamba to talk nicely to the white community but when things were getting tough, motor-mouth activist //Garoeb would go in to shout, threaten and make noise. That was when Nujoma chose to stay away only later to step in as a peacemaker!
I am not saying that Nujoma's team was brilliant. At times some characters in his team could best be described as political gangsters or their performances were an epic lesson in political buffoonery.
But there was still a sense of a team whose aim was, especially at the beginning, to create an environment of peace through national reconciliation, democracy and tranquility, as Nujoma would selectively point out from time to time.
Once Nujoma was about to move out, the team started falling apart and some, like Hidipo Hamutenya and Jesaya Nyamu, resigned to form their own political party. They claimed victimisation and lack of democracy within the party.
Swapo needs to think carefully about what it wants for the country now.
Do we want a team with extreme business skills and economic interest at heart; traditionalists who will only pander to the whims of the ruling party, or a group who will blend economic development of the country with what the majority of the voters wish for.
Do we want Hage Geingob, of late seen taking huge business delegations (including some questionable characters) on foreign trips, with the likes of Sven Thieme and Haddis Tilahun (both complete outsiders vis-a-vis Swapo leadership or Iivula-Ithana alongside Joseph Diescho, Boniface Mutumba and John Walters (to mention a few) or Abraham Iyambo leading Richard Kamwi, Saara Kugongelwa-Amadhila and Tom Alweendo. The last group are already in Cabinet but tend not to be associated with camps. They are mainly seen as go-getters.
In South Africa, Jacob Zuma came up with a new team and it seems to be working, albeit still with some minor problems.
What Namibia needs is a group of hardworking, prosperous and shrewd people (team) who love the country and its people. They should be able to inspire Namibians and re-energise Swapo, but not be seen as apparatchiks.
I think of a team with like-minded people. Currently we have a few sharp minds but they seem to operate in isolation.
There are bound to be squabbles and divisions if the Swapo traditionalists start thinking along those lines and I might be accused of promoting cliques or camps. I am not for playground politics of the most immature sort!
I just want Swapo to think about whether a debate around a team will not be appropriate at this moment.
The ball is in the party's court.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hey Bra, We Are Failing Our Youth

“HEY, Bra Gazza... It’s me Sam Nujoma. Your number one outie ...,” a casual former President Sam Nujoma says in township slang in a rap and kwaito CD released by a Swapo company prior to the 2004 presidential and national election.

At that stage, no one expected Nujoma (even in our wildest dreams) to feature in a rap and kwaito CD but here the normally very serious politician was apparently chatting to one of the country’s most popular musicians.
Swapo had gone all-out to get votes of the youth.
Other political parties also bent over backwards to win the souls of the youth, especially during the 2009 elections when the motto of almost everyone had something to do with born-frees.
It seems politicians go all out to get whatever they want. And they have ways to mingle with businesspeople because they know that funding will come their way if and when they want it.
That is why I was not surprised to see our Founding Father sandwiched between two Brazilian samba dancers at a ceremony to mark the arrival of an oil company from that country in Namibia.
But how I wish politicians would also go to the same lengths for the upliftment of our youth.
I was not a delegate to the education conference and neither did I take time to attend it, I must confess.
But I was hoping that, since organisers spoke about holistic education, they would pause and, even if briefly, discuss what is there for our youth in terms of entertainment and leisure.
We scorn them when they attend rough and excessive parties such as the one recently organised by Gazza and which featured South African multimillionaire Kenny Kunene who is better known as ‘Sushi King’. For those who missed it, Gazza and his SA friends celebrity guests arrived in posh cars and they drank champagne off the semi-naked body of a young woman.
Of course Gazza justified the actions by stating afterwards that it was a business platform and that they looked past the models in bikinis!
But the point is, Gazza and like-minded others (how wrong it might be) are exploiting a niche market that’s there for the taking.
Although we spend so much time pouring scorn on them for attending such parties and other binges, we have failed our children and youth who sometimes need a break from books.
Take a stroll into the city centre or anywhere else in the rest of Namibia on a Saturday afternoon and see for yourself.
Do we have any decent place for the youth to relax? To borrow a term from my daughter: ‘duh’! If your answer is yes, young people will probably tell you to get a life.
I am not talking about a church youth gathering on Friday evening or a matinee disco Saturday afternoon where drug abuse is the order of the day but real entertainment young people will enjoy and which will enrich them emotionally, physically and educationally while with friends.
We had a few activities before like putt-putt in some towns, but they are now gone.
Such absence of entertainment is partly the cause of driving our young people into drug abuse and other wrongdoing while those with money will continue to act in their own interest and increase their power and influence over the youth such as the sushi (champagne) kings.
As for our politicians, from city fathers to national leaders, their bellies are not threatened until the next election when they will come up with some schemes to lure the youth with false promises to the polling booths.
My impression is that we are failing the youth and we shouldn’t be surprised by or condemn many of the things the young people do to entertain themselves.
I just wonder what the future holds for our country.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thousands Without A Place To Call Home

AT Independence Windhoek had a housing backlog for 7 000 people.

At the same time housing was identified as one of the priority areas of development alongside education, health and agriculture.
A decade and a half later the housing shortage in the whole country had reached 80 000 units while we have seen increased mushrooming of informal settlements all over the country.
By then it was already clear that the country’s system was failing to enable the poor to shift from survival mode into the mainstream economy which included affording a proper roof over their heads.
If the trend continues, estimates are that we might be burdened with a housing shortage of 300 000 units by the year 2030. According to estimates in Vision 2030, we will have a population of about three million by that time. It means the country needs roughly 14 000 new houses each year to keep up with population growth.
There are several reasons for the increased housing backlog. When the country became independent 21 years ago only 27 per cent of the population was urbanised.
With increased job opportunities in urban areas, especially the main centres, the number has grown to 33 per cent 10 years later and by last year the estimates were 50 per cent.
The result is that a whopping 75 per cent of the population will be living in urban areas by 2030, if nothing drastic is done to counter the huge migration.
It is no secret, and we don’t need another million-dollar national conference to point it out, that the major factor contributing to the rural-to-urban migration is the search for better social and economic opportunities.
The upward trajectory of housing prices have also fuelled the crisis.
In most cases such high prices were artificially inflated by housing agents (through things such as high commission) and land providers such as the City of Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund who prey on the high demand.
Well-off foreigners who buy with cash have also contributed to the rise in prices of housing, especially in bigger towns.
But the snail-like progress in providing proper housing is becoming a real indictment on all those involved in the provision of housing - from the policy-makers right down to the local authorities who over-price erven unnecessarily.
Affordable and decent housing has become a real uphill battle to close the huge housing backlog.
It is worsened by, for instance, high levels of poverty and unemployment, limited capital investment, spiralling building costs and little financial support for low- and middle-income groups.
That is why a conference like the one which took place this week should not look at the education problem in isolation. Since the education system produces a large pool of unskilled and uneducated adults, it has catastrophic consequences for the future of a country whose developmental goals are already being severely hampered by an acute housing shortage.
As a home is usually an individual’s single most valuable economic asset and ownership is a traditional entry point into the formal economy, the provision of services such as land, water and electricity needs to be stepped up.
There is an explicit need to bring about redress and redistribution, but funding allocations have also been skewed in favour of the poorest while the middle class has lost out as cities and towns tend to concentrate a lot on servicing erven for shacks, build-together programmes and for the upmarket sector.
Such cities tend to cash in by servicing land in elite areas to sell at exorbitant prices as well as for the poor at very low rates but forget to cater for the majority of the working class, most of whom struggle to rent a flat, house or room.
So, a cursory examination shows that while some benefits have accrued through build-together programmes and low-cost housing projects, real problems remain as thousands do not have places they can call home.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Namibia Inc: Are We A 51 Per Cent Nation?

HAVE you ever thought about it? Half of all Namibians in their prime working ages are not getting up and going to work!

It’s not what I say. Statistics, damn statistics, is what tells us this.
The Namibia Labour Force Survey (NLFS) of 2008 shows that not only are 51,2 per cent of all Namibians unemployed, but that 53 per cent of those between the ages of 25 to 29 are jobless, while 46 per cent of people between 30 and 34 years share the same predicament. It also revealed that 35 per cent of Namibians 50 years and older do not have employment.
What the above is telling us that Namibia is becoming less vital and industrious. The warning sign is in the fact that 51,2 per cent (or one out of every two) Namibians aren’t working.
Worst still, the problem is likely to deteriorate further given that the rate of population growth between 1991 and 2001 was 2,6 per cent per annum and has remained around the same for the last few years.
We are not only faced with the high unemployment rate. We also struggle in many other areas.
Namibia’s education system has failed thousands of young people who ended up in streets, our manufacturing base is very small and the production in our agricultural sector is weakening, to name but a few. Of late, we must also deal with things such as climate change.
Although I do not want to generalise it, it is a fact that Namibian institutions of higher education continue to churn out a high number of qualified graduates each year but their prospects of getting jobs also remain a pipe dream due to what they offer to the different sectors.
Such higher learning institutions get their candidates from schools.
Since the introduction of the new education system after Independence, we have not managed to even get a 52 per cent pass rate for the 30 000-odd full-time Grade 10s each year while of the 42 000 full-time candidates for Grade 12 last year, for instance, only 3 656 (8,9 per cent) received enough credits to enter institutions of higher learning.
Part of the problem at the schools is the failure of the education ministry in implementing the prescribed staffing ratio of 30 pupils to one teacher at secondary schools and 35 to one teacher at primary level. Some secondary schools have as many as 40 to 45 pupils in a class.
These are things that were supposed to be solved through the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (Etsip).
One of the goals of Vision 2030 is to see a Namibia with a population of healthy, well-educated, skilled and financially stable people with a broad range of talents, and displaying a positive attitude towards themselves and fellow citizens.
What Namibia needs now is people willing to take up the space to contest for economic and social emancipation while those who feel hamstrung by their ambition keep quiet.
We are informed that the Targeted Investment Programme for Employment and Economic Growth (TIPEEG), introduced by Finance Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila during her budget introduction, is a tool to tackle the hugh unemployment evil.
But if TIPEEG, which focusses on agriculture, transport, tourism, and housing and sanitation, only benefits a few through tenders, we know that the 104 000 jobs which she announced in her speech will remain a dream.
Even though Namibia won’t be a basket case, we will remain mediocre in world rankings. We will be a 51 per cent nation despite spending gazillions on efforts to change the situation if we continue to divert money into thoughtless and self-destructive ways.
As long as we don’t act now our future economic and educational goose is cooked.
It is a festering sore, especially for those who happen to be part of the unfortunate poor.
So let’s move from talkshops to real and tangible action with visible outcomes.