Their Blood Waters Our Freedom – to Eat? [opinion]

OVER the past few years, and especially in 2014, the Namibian government has been investing heavily in reviving the consciousness of its people about the cost of the wars for liberation.

Whether it is breaking with divisive politics to accord Herero chief and politician Kuaima Riruako a state funeral and hero status returning the remains of Namibians who died in exile during the war of liberation or the opening of the Liberation Museum on Robert Mugabe Avenue in Windhoek, the actions show a premium being placed on reminding people how far we have come as a country.

Yesterday, when receiving the remains of Putuse Appolus and Linekela Kalenga from Zambia, President Hifikepunye Pohamba rightly emphasised the importance of according people who fought for the liberation of this country but died in the process of doing so, both status and respect.

With Appolus, for example, he mentioned that she never had a bank account because her income was spent on housing and helping Swapo leaders run the affairs of the liberation movement. To put it another way, the President was reminding those who have made it into independent Namibia to appreciate the sacrifice and selflessness that went into making the country livable for all.

How nauseating is it not then that Pohamba sees a few Namibians live lavish lifestyles while the majority can hardly scrape enough together to make it through the day.

It will be short-sighted to castigate only the boastful ghomtjas, tenderpreneurs, tekopreneurs, BEEs, other rent-seekers and their partners for adopting the questionable lifestyle of the colonial masters without looking at the bigger picture. There are several who steal and don’t let on that they have amassed riches through state resources.

Then there are politicians who boast about their insatiable penchant for luxury goods and argue that there is nothing wrong with showing off and “enjoying it” because they have made their own money fairly.

But even the businesspeople who legitimately earn their income ought to show some restraint. Why? Because they too made their break because of many other people and thus should realise that ostentation is a spit in the soup of the majority who face a daily struggle to survive. Our values should go against showing off when others are struggling.

Flaunting one’s wealth in an ocean of poverty is a sign that our country has lost it and is suffering from mental, moral and structural degradation.

How can those who, for good or bad reasons, made massive amounts of money from other Namibians (whether it is through the insurance or banking industry or through taxpayer-funded projects) sleep comfortably when blowing that money on luxuries from other countries? Some people boast about buying the most expensive cars that can only be serviced and insured in foreign lands.

Several of those don’t care to employ Namibians or pay decent wages, as reports show from many government tenders like the National Housing Enterprise’s project where the “winners” are not even bothered to pay the meagre minimum wage of under N$14 an hour in the construction industry.

The saddest part is that the loudest mouths that demand to “enjoy the fruits of independence” show the least appreciation for what true freedom fighters have done. They care nothing about solidarity with the poor who are left behind.

They are probably the biggest tax dodgers. With so many reports about how crony capitalism is doing well for a few in Namibia, it begs the question as to whether different government agencies make sure that the right amounts of taxes are paid or that proper salaries are offered to employees to at least exact some sense of redistribution of public resources.

At the rate we are going, our new-found culture of “eating money” does not only go against the grain of those who died for the freedom of Namibia but it won’t be many decades before the country has joined the club of failed African countries whose inhabitants forever blame foreigners for their backwardness.

Source : The Namibian