Look Before You Leap

IT IS TEMPTING to say “we told you so”, but this editorial is not an exercise in self righteousness. Besides, the point we wish to make cannot be reduced to those four words.

Swapo backbencher Kazenambo Kazenambo last week claimed, in parliament, that the government was spying on some leaders, including himself.

Information minister Joumlel Kaapanda responded in an interview with The Namibian that lawmakers complaining that phones were being tapped should know that they were the ones who passed the Communications Act in 2009.

“The law was passed in parliament. Members of parliament participated in this law. It is not my law. If anybody is concerned about it, it’s their feeling about it, but it’s not my law,” he said.

The ‘interception of communications’ clause in the act was seen as government’s attempt to harass and even silence its critics. The law gave the Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) sweeping powers to spy on private citizens without judicial oversight.

Back in 2009 when Swapo, with its overwhelming majority, bulldozed this legislation through parliament, there was an outcry from the public.

The media, officials and other members of the public warned that the law would be used for all the wrong reasons.

The politicians and their lackeys had other ideas. It is done all over the world, they claimed. ‘If you have nothing to hide, why are you afraid?’, some asked. We wonder what ‘crime’ Kazenambo and his comrades committed.

Sadly, in 2009, Kazenambo gly supported the legislation, saying if Namibia failed to pass such a bill, then the country was behind and ‘primitive’. That was before Wikileaks and Edward Snowden became household names globally. Today Kazenambo says it is primitive to have such a law.

Kaapanda pleads ignorance about the phone-tapping. But few will believe him as there are many anecdotes confirming that it is happening.

If nothing else, Kazenambo’s accusations against his own comrades and the discussions that have dominated the National Assembly during the budget debates have shown one thing: the lawmakers care only for themselves. The rest of the population comes to their minds only as an afterthought.

For the governing party, Swapo, it is becoming too evident that few leaders have become way too powerful and not worried at all about the consequences of their shenanigans.

If only lawmakers can do the job for which they are voted in power, we would not be tempted to say “look before you leap”.

If only the politicians would listen…

It’s Worse than Stated

The Namibian’s editorial of last week, 28 March 2014, misrepresented the latest employment statistics when it stated that “more than 50% of the 690 000 employed Namibians earn less than N$2 000 month or that 283 000 actually make less than N$1 000 a month”. The editorial also said that 1.2% of Namibians earn more than N$10,000 a month.

A review of the information supplied by the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) suggests the situation to be worse than what this newspaper stated.

In fact, 60% of Namibian households (translating to 283 000 out of 471 300 households) live on an income of N$1 000 a month or less. Similarly, about 80% of the households in this country (376 500 out of 471 300 households) have to make do with earning not more than N$2 000. That is a preposterous eight out of every 10 families making a meagre N$2 000 or less every month.

Only 1.2% of Namibian households can boast making more than N$10 000 a month.

Such grim figures expose the terrible inequality in our country if one considered that Namibia’s average annual income per person is pegged at US$8 600 (N$91 500).

Source : The Namibian