Daily Observer

The meal has been eaten; the bill must be paid

The real challenge the president faces is not cancelling car purchases or termination of special advisors to regional governors, but how the Eurobonds taken in US dollar currency will be re-paid on time. The US$500 million bond taken out in 2011 is due in October 2021. That means nearly N$9.3 billion will be payable to those holding the bonds in about 17 months. These monies borrowed during the presidency of Hifikepunye Pohamba have long since been spent. The meal has been eaten, now the waiter is hovering near the Namibian table with the portable swipe machine ready, watching us. The…
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Cabinet conflict of interest under review

We are encouraged to read that cabinet members with conflicts of interest regarding the fisheries issue on the agenda had to step out. What concerns us is that such an action is considered new. This should have been the case from the start. A conflict of interest is “a situation in which a person is in a position to derive personal benefit from actions or decisions made in their official capacity and where your separate duties to act in the best interests of two or more clients in the same or a related matter conflict.” Cabinet must always act ethically…
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The selfish rich and middle classes

Those who eat regularly, have some income, and a safe, warm place to sleep need to stop shouting so loud. Your noise is drowning out the screams from those who have nothing. These are challenging times and all of us must come down a notch or two. The selfish rich and middle classes, need a wake-up call. Someone who never has bread does not worry about not having bread. But, the person used to eating bread everyday feels bereft they miss bread for only one day out of seven. We must be careful about shifting limited resources to appease the…
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‘Namibianize’ Namibia

Most Namibians love their country and do not divide their loyalty by ethnic, racial or tribal segments. They are proud Namibians. This is no less the case for us. But, when the members of boards, holders of high office and certain government job appointments, are only people from the Oshiwambo-speaking ethnic group, the playing field is uneven. This is a problem. Those responsible for this problem know that giving jobs or appointments based on tribal origin is unfair (and illegal). But, there is an unspoken arrogant response in the air, “We’ve done this and there is nothing you can do…
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The price of not knowing why

Our educational system teaches students to ‘do’ but not to think. Beneficiaries of apartheid and colonialism loved this. Thinking people will quickly and easily perceive weaknesses and attack strategically. After independence, in most public schools, that same back-handed educational trend continued. The reason changed. The priority was increasing higher literacy statistics and ‘grades.' The government did not want to slog up the hard road of educating teachers and teaching students critical thinking. In this pandemic, we now pay the price for this. We ask people to wear masks, but do not help them to understand why. That is the reason…
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Slashing salaries bears watching

The Ministry of Labour wasted time and energy last month making ridiculous noises about regulations to forbid employers from firing staff. Instead they should have gotten ahead of the curve and provided guidelines when employers slash salaries. Mass salary cuts from a wide range of businesses in all sectors are in the headlines. This is inevitable in these unprecedented, harsh and unclear business times due to the State of Emergency and its backlash. There could be thousands of bankruptcies and business reductions in the wake of this pandemic’s devastation. Hundreds of thousands of employees will be affected in some way.…
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E-learning:  an expensive, elusive dream

E-learning: an expensive, elusive dream

We applaud the efforts of our decision-makers who are trying their best to carry the country through the COVID-19 crisis. That said, we cannot avoid pointing out that recent comment by the Executive Director of the Ministry of Education that the country was never ready for mass e-learning for all learners, is no surprise at all. Who seriously believed that Namibia could substitute home learning using the internet (in English) for primary and secondary school classroom lessons? We certainly did not. The entire effort was a waste of resources. Is our government actually telling the country that it had no…
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Find your #newnormal before it finds you

Don’t deny the reality that everything is changing. Accept that your world post-COVID-19 will be the same as before the pandemic. Other than the banks, all economic sectors and households are taking a beating. And Government cannot save each of us. We must plan to save ourselves. The world as we all knew it is gone. If you are middle class, prepare for the lower middle class or worse. If you were living pay check to pay check, you are in big trouble. If the cash lenders own your pay check and it is not coming any more, you are…
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Masks: the cart before the horse

The national phased plan to reopen Namibia is not Namibian. We have cut-and-pasted regulations suited to other people’s COVID-19 situations. However, prevention of the pandemic is not always a one-size-fits-all proposition. The Phase 2 demand that masks be worn by everyone while in public has given rise to this concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) website clearly states that there is no need for ALL citizens to wear masks. On the contrary, they cite that ONLY those working with patients in hospitals, those who are ill or living with those who are, the immune-compromised, and essential health care and safety…
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Read the fine print before cheering

The statement that the devil is in the details is spot on. As people slog through the criteria, rules, and exceptions attached to the announced COVID-19 financial support plans, all that glitters is not gold. Before giving more applause to the headline-grabbing announcements of N$8.1 billion for this or N$400 million for that or N$700 million for these, people must step back, take a deep breath. Read the fine print. Fact: Namibia was broke before COVID-19 hit and the coffers were dry. This remains the case. The money that is being bandied about is coming from sleight of hand by…
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