Daily Observer

Parliamentary bout – round two

…as both sides forget that democracy is not easy Democracy is hard work. This week in Parliament, Speaker Peter Katjavivi, and LPM leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb forgot this. Each resorted to dictatorship, emotion and anger. The Speaker told two elected leaders to get out of the building. The two, Seibeb and Swartbooi, engaged in a goal-less diatribe, hurling personal insults at a citizen. To what end? Did their outburst create a single job? How is the drowning Namibian economy saved by that clash? In the Speaker’s case, there was a dangerous precedent set. Arguably, there was a misuse…
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The informal sector is critical to the economy

The regulatory pursuit of informal vendors, traders, and service providers will not formalize the economy but destroy it. The informal sector is as valuable to the Namibian economy as any other commercial sector. Rather than criminalizing the informal economy, why not help it earn more income? For now, the state earns revenues in the informal sector from VAT on sales of raw materials or bulk products. Let them form their own chamber of commerce and dialogue with decision-makers about the services they need and how to pay for them. Please read the February 25, 2011 article, Support ‘meme kapanas’. In…
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Passing the buck on paying for COVID

All sectors of society and the economy seem to selfishly nurse the expectation that someone else will foot their part of the pandemic bill. They don’t get it that ALL of us will feel the pain one way or another. Schools are forcing cash-strapped parents to pay full tuition and fees from March through June. And yet, there were no face-to-face courses offered during that time. Parents are demanding to not pay for classes not given. Private schools are using their usual punish-the-kids extortion tactic to force parents to comply. They don’t want to eat any of the losses involved…
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The ‘opening’ moment of truth is approaching

As the government continues with the plan to move towards the total lifting of the state of emergency in Namibia, a moment of truth for decision-makers is coming. Do we open faster to save parts of the economy or slow down? Namibia is not the only country dealing with this dilemma. Business executives with access to high offices are screaming because their net worth of millions is dropping. Their lifestyles are threatened and they are closing ranks to stop the downward trend. At the same time, these investors, business people and captains of industry are the engine that runs the…
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Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not a policy; it is confusion

In May, fisheries minister Albert Kawana announced that the government will allocate certain horse mackerel and hake quotas to six companies. To get these quotas, companies were supposed to hire about 1,300 fishermen who lost their jobs due to the Fishrot scandal. In addition, the government has buckled to pressure and awarded quotas to new rights holders from the over 5,000 submissions that were received during the national casting call for applications for fishing quotas two years ago. To satisfy these situations, the government has decided to rob Peter to pay Paul. This has made matters worse. To spread the…
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Geingob needs better advisors

…as ill-advised labour ministry action judged to be illegal The High Court has found that the government acted against the constitution when it cherry-picked parts of the labour law and supressed certain clauses. The Minister of Labour failed by authoring this disastrous legal debacle. The Attorney General failed as he did not protect the administration by stopping the doomed labour action. Together, they exposed the president. Geingob needs better advisors. The Attorney-General, as the lawyer for the government, is supposed to do the legal research on proposed actions by the government. It is his task to go through the constitution,…
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Win first – then run the tourism victory lap

Headlines blaring: ‘Tourists to return’ or ‘Namibia to open borders’ need to be examined carefully. The small print ‘terms and conditions’ for stages 4 and 5 of the re-opening, make those headlines too broad. Let us not raise expectations that cannot be met. It is important to not run a victory lap before the race is run. The hospitality, travel and tourism industry is failing and it is hurting tens of thousands of Namibians. No tourists = no tourism revenue = sector collapse. We know the industry is in pain. We do not envy policymakers who are juggling sharp knives…
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Women’s freedom chained by apartheid laws

There is a petition signed by over 5,000 people calling for the government to legalize women’s rights to choose when they have children. We applaud this effort; it is long overdue. Any human being has a right to decide what happens to their bodies. The discussion around sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) is important. The debate must respond to the silent cry of women forced to give birth against their will. The existing Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 law is 45 years old. This apartheid-era law was written by South African white men, who patronizingly considered women as…
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Job vs Swapo is not the point . . . inclusive democracy is

The new normal could mean a serious reconsideration of proportional representation in Parliament and an end to parties making decisions about who represents people locally. Affirmative Repositioning (AR) has registered with the Electoral Commission of Namibia in time for the upcoming 2020 local authority and regional council elections. AR co-leader Job Amupanda has had long-stated aspirations to be the Mayor of the City of Windhoek. The stage has been set for an exercise in inclusive democracy that is long overdue in Namibia. Namibian politics has shifted significantly from where things were in March 1990. The world has altered remarkably since…
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Close the preferential treatment door

Rules and laws must apply to all, especially during a state of emergency for a global pandemic. There must be no preferential treatment for well-connected billionaires of anyone else. Apparently, Russian billionaire Rashid Sardarov's private jet landed at HK International airport with a crew of people from the outside that were not put in quarantine. The Executive Director in the ministry of works evidently commented that they have recorded increased frequencies of private planes coming in when this is not supposed to be happening. The rich and powerful do not have an inherent resistance to COVID-19. Let the pandemic restrictions…
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