Paper trails, fish tales and woe ramblings

21 February 2020
Author   Thandizo Kawerama
Earlier this month it was ruled that there shall be no use of EVMs without a paper trail - that’s the story. While it’s commendable that the case was handled swiftly, I wish the other major problems Namibia faces would be settled as quickly.
It is great to have court rulings that reinforce the constitution. But, that ruling does not put bread on anyone’s table or create a much-needed job for the unemployed.
The swift manner in which the EVM case was handled is a reminder that the day-to-day concerns of the people of this nation are an afterthought. The Fishrot six were arrested last November - and rightfully so. They have been joined in the dock by another accused thief. We look for even more to join the ‘celebrity queue’ in the docks. Indeed, no form of corruption should be tolerated. But what about the fishermen who lost their jobs as a result of corruption? The Fishrot accused receive more attention than the hundreds who lost their jobs as a result of that calamity. Where is the swift solution for them?
Oh, indeed there have been talks of compensation for the fired fishermen – nice speeches - but that’s it. Promises have been made with no logistics, practicality or timeline on fulfilment. In an economic recession, jobs cannot be created out of nothing. Privately owned fishing companies cannot be forced to hire anyone. Even then, what of the years that these fishermen were unemployed? Who compensates them for marriages lost, children that have gone unschooled, homes and cars repossessed and other damages?
And what about the schools that are currently in session without any electricity and water, food, books, and enough desks? What about the school children living in hostels that have terrible beds, leaking roofs, and overcrowded facilities with not enough showers or working toilets? Where is the urgency for their right to a sanitary living and learning space? EVM paper trails are important, but so are the living conditions in state boarding schools around the country.
The housing crisis remains the same with masses of the people living in tin shacks. Hep E is raging. Hospitals don't have medicines and supplies. Women and young girls are raped and killed by crazy men.
Where is the same swiftness that was applied to settling the EVM fiasco when it comes to addressing the plight of the Namibian people?
Government leaders are taking for granted the peaceful nature of our nation. Being patient, tolerant and peaceful are positive characteristics. But, it is way past the time when we all must take a step back and remind ourselves that peace only lasts when all parties involved are content on some level. That contentment is disappearing in Namibia.
The ruling on EVMs has been rendered and a renewed suit has been lodged by Panduleni Itula. Now what? What has changed for Namibians struggling to make it each day? What is different right now, after that ruling and the new Itula court challenge than was happening before? Nothing.
Everyone is scrambling to survive in this economy. Seeing a front-page photo in the newspaper of the Fishrot accused in the dock smiling and laughing is too much to endure! We have EVMs and paper trails (we hope) - so, how are people living better right now as a result of that?
EVM band-aids don’t fix the bullet holes of poverty. The murmurs and grumbles of discontented, impatient people in Namibia are only getting louder. What happens when they turn into full-blown shouts? People are losing patience, the treasury is empty and leaders are only making more speeches.
The frustrations of people need to be taken seriously. There has to be a change in the way the problems of this country are handled. This falls right in line with the so-called, Year of Introspection. This could be considered yet another empty Geingob platitude. But, it seems to say that a serious internal re-evaluation needs to take place. Still, introspection without immediate, tangible action is useless.
The inauguration of the final Geingob administration is a month away. The 30th anniversary of Namibian independence is ready to be celebrated. The way forward must be full of visible, substantive changes. We handled the EVM problem quickly, so let’s address the needs of the people the same way. Before the independence celebrations end, roll out direct programs that help those with the greatest needs right now.


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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