Empty rhetoric cannot address regional, local dire conditions

Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

Is there any single political party, association or for that matter any independent candidate that is deserving of my vote in four days’ time when we go to the polls for the Regional and Local Authorities on Wednesday?

Yours Truly Ideologically cannot help but think loudly. Just four days before the elections not convinced that anyone may be so deserving. Not only the vote of Yours Truly Ideologically but certainly it would not be strange that this may be the sentiment of many a Namibian voter.

Perplexed at the lack of choices from the various entities bidding to serve the inhabitants and residents in the regions and localities. Not only pretending commitment to serving during elections but honestly convinced in striving for truthfully and realistically embark with the people, especially the neglected, oppressed and exploited, on a radical transformational journey as far as their socio-economic conditions are concerned.

Because this far, for most of the entities the campaigns have been at worse nothing more than political rhetoric, and empty promises at best. Many Namibian people, especially at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder, are daily facing many bread and butter issues. In this era of Covid-19, when eking a living is a challenge, when job losses, even casual ones, are hard to come by, living hardships are the order.

This being the case, nevertheless few of the entities and persons contesting elections, have been able to approach their campaigns from this hard reality of Covid-19. How they can help the inhabitants and residents bear the unbearable hard living conditions so that they can soldier the steep edge of the pandemic. And once on the other side, how they can help the people, especially the working people.

Not to mention how they propose to rebuild the ruined economies.
Post-pandemic, it would and cannot be a simple matter of the provision of the requisite services. But raising the much-needed resources to make such provision possible. But how can one raise the requisite resources when the base, from which to effect this, has been debased by the pandemic as it has?

Whether the various entities and personalities vying for election would wish to admit it or not, post-Covid-19 recovery, and consequently service delivery, would very much depend on much-needed injections by central government for lifeline stimulus towards recovery. Thus, whatever the promises of the various political aspirants in thesetrying times of Covid-19, it would be next to nothing and no more than empty rhetoric, and at best no more than political trickery.

One of the most pressing need of this era, whether in rural or urban areas, is the lack of decent housing, especially for the working people. The provision of housing is intricately linked to the availability of land. But land is, been and continues to be the privilege of a few in Namibia.

Meaning, working people accessing land on which to have a shelter fit for human habitation, has been and continues to be a basic need. Yet, hard to come by. Be that as it may, with the exception of one or two entities contesting these elections, one has as yet to see and hear a workable radical transformational proposal in terms of housing. One that would ensure that any working person can afford a roof over her/his head.

It is an undeniable fact that there are even civil servants at the lower end of the civil service who can barely, or for that matter simply cannot afford a decent shelter. The essence is not that they cannot afford. But simply the way in which housing provision is structured, the commoditification of housing provision, makes housing a luxury.

Especially given the cartel of landowners and financial institutions running and pricing houses out of the reach of the worker. As a result, the housing backlog, 30 years plus after independence, has in fact worsened. This is despite the provision of houses being declared upon independence one of the highest priorities of the government.

“To make resources available for the development of infrastructure and facilities so that every Namibian will be given a fair opportunity to acquire land with water, energy and waste disposal system and to facilitate access to shelter in suitable locations at a cost and standard which is affordable to the family on the one hand and to the nation on the other hand,” reads the 1991 National Housing Policy.

Last year, the country’s housing backlog was said to be 110,000. This is against an annual growth rate of 3,700 units. This year it has been pegged at 300,000 units for which the country needs N$76 billion. This would be 300,000/3700, which, all things being equal, take almost another decade, the same it took Namibia to become independent since German colonialism, to deal with the housing backlog.

This is the reality of the situation for those aspirant regional and local politicians, who would want to make the public believe they can deliver. This cannot happen under the current capitalist land and finance provision structure. And that is why those vying for regional and local office must come up with workable radical solutions rather than the empty political rhetoric they have been feeding voters on.

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