Our country is said to be flourishing and business is booming, at least on the surface of things. As numerous social teething troubles continue unabated, there’s seems to be no obvious endeavour to find amicable and lasting solutions.
It is equally true that not all problems can be solved immediately, but it is confusing when there is not even an iota of an attempt to decipher the complications.
The veterans’ matter was partially resolved at the cost of escalating the rampant and abject poverty staring the masses in the face. Decent housing has become an unaffordable luxury, even for blue collar workers, and this can be attributed to lack of innovation to fulfill the right of every citizen to decent housing. Today, water, electricity and fuel have turned out to be an expensive affair, to the extent that responsible agencies do not discuss ways of lessening the burden on the consumer, but rather focus on ways of passing on the charges to the most deprived, in the name of ‘cost-recovery’.
The problems of the ‘struggle kids’ have come and gone for the last decade and yet the problems still linger on, despite preferential job placements and grants to study and start small businesses.
The land issue has been on the table since 1992 and has been complicated by the greed of the very same people who were supposed to oversee a smooth land reform programme. The problems have worsened since high-ranking official have exhausted the affirmative action loans, meant for the disadvantaged groups to acquire commercial farms. The top brass have started raiding communal land, where thousands of families, living with their animals have been indirectly denied access to water points, grazing and wild fruits.
There is no doubt that the country needs foreign investment. However, some pretentious investors are proposing projects not accepted anywhere else in the world, for example phosphate mining, sulphuric acid processing and other highly pollutive industries to produce extremely toxic material, as a byproduct of goods destined for the world market, not for Namibia. The controlling officers seem to be aiming for a quick buck, without pondering the long-term effects and viability of such ‘development’.
Our foreign policy has completely collapsed since it is still largely guided by the defunct Cold War mindset. There is so much emphasis on solidarity with certain countries that offer no value to the economic development of our country, or mutual benefit for the people of Namibia and the citizens of those countries. North Korea is a good example of how the nation is supporting the most secretive state in the world and by extension, its controversial nuclear weapon arsenal.
Recently we had high-level visitors like the King Mswati III, Africa’s last absolute monarch. Swaziland is not only technically insolvent, but has no bilateral economic value for Namibia outside the dormant SADC intra-regional trade circles. King Mswati is facing a backlash at home and has been criticised at home and abroad for human rights abuses and suppression of the democratic aspirations of the Swazi people.
Behind the facade of peace and tranquility lurks complacency, a lack of accountability and sheer contempt for the poor. The leaders of the Land of the Brave seem to have no remedy for the social ills affecting its people, but there is money and time to silence divergent views, sanction senseless international trips and tolerate endemic corruption and crime. This has given rise to a widespread sense of hopelessness and despair.
But as that evergreen slave song reminds us:
‘We Shall Overcome!’