Happy 24th Anniversary!

NAMIBIA is a young country and with that comes many challenges, though even older nations can be beset with problems too. But overall Namibia has not done too badly.

The foundation set with the adoption of the Constitution is a great one to build on. “The Republic of Namibia is hereby established as a sovereign, secular, democratic and unitary state founded upon the principles of democracy, the rule of law and justice for all,” reads our supreme law.

Taken in broad terms, statistics and other indicators suggest the country is doing well: the economy has recorded consistent real growth, the roots of democracy and the rule of law are spreading, the image of the country from the outside is rosy.

So, generally, there is a lot to smile about and we must rejoice in the belief and hope that we can continue to do well.

After doing the merry dances on 21 March, we need to recover quickly from the festivities to steer Namibia away from the plutocratic republic that it has become. Otherwise the majority would find it difficult to grasp the correctness of lofty praises outsiders heap on our nation.

Out of Touch or Political Manoeuvre?

PRESIDENT Pohamba and his cabinet ministers seem to be making statements of intent to clean up the mess in the country. Or what can we make of the tongue-lashing by a furious head of state during a visit to Naute Dam aimed at officials in government as well as private businesspeople about the poor treatment of workers?

It is difficult not to take note when a head of state gives a grown man a dressing down like he’d do a naughty puppy that was destroying socks and littering in the house. The labour and social welfare minister Doreen Sioka did the same thing within a space of less than a week. Both promised tough action against the perpetrators.

The point though is, in what country do these leaders live? Did they really think poor working and living conditions had improved for the majority of Namibians, whether state employee or private?

As recently as 22 July 2010 (three months into his second five-year term as Namibian head of state), according to a government memo prepared for State House, President Pohamba was shocked to see how shacks had spread on the northern outskirts of Katutura. He went there with several ministers to see conditions for himself at the constituencies of Tobias Hainyeko, Moses Garoeb, Samora Machel and Khomasdal North.

The report claimed the President was surprised that “the situation is bad for Swapo voters. That flags were seen all over. [But] only Swapo flags were visible. That our supporters are not ashamed to put up Swapo flags.”

Pohamba aised his entourage of six not-so-new cabinet ministers and senior party politicians at the time to “think about [this scenario] seriously”.

In 2010 the Tobias Hainyeko constituency had 42 000 residents but only 45% of the households had access sewerage, according to the State House report. The rest used buckets and the bush. About 20% of the people lived in “properly built houses”. Fewer even had electricity unless it was illegally drawn and dangerously laid over the ground.

“The President was sadly moved to see children in such a predicament. The Swapo flags were flying high everywhere despite the difficulties. This is a clear indication that these determined members deserve to be met halfway, if not all the way,” declared the report as it urged action from several ministers and Windhoek councillors.

Four years down the line: has the picture improved for these die-hards Swapo members and supporters? If so, to what extent? Statistics from both government institutions and independent ones tell us life is getting harder for people in those areas.

Worryingly, if little or nothing gets better for people who offer themselves as canon-fodder every time Swapo issues a call to arms [read elections] and who the President can see from his Auasblick house (very clearly if he were to use binoculars or similar devices), what about those as far away as Naute Dam in Karas?

Source : The Namibian