. . . anything else is noise

Jackie W Asheeke

COVID-19 is a game changer. Any business or individual thinking that all will snap back into pre-pandemic shape is delusional. The best thing to do is to lower your barriers against change and thank God you are alive.

After that, we all must focus on the needs of the people and step-in to thwart the profiteers, conmen, hoarders, blindly selfish people and other vermin that feed off of other people’s misery.

Food stores in Windhoek are raising prices in the middle of a State of Emergency. Government should take legislative action to prevent this. COVID is not a free pass to price gouge to make up for lost profits. It is unseemly.

The entire economy is struggling – many customers shopping in those stores did not get paid for April and may not be paid at the same levels for the foreseeable future (if they even have jobs at all!) Businesses in all sectors have and will continue to close. Jobs are being lost or salaries reduced each minute. As we say in the ‘hood – “This sh*t is fo’ reals.”

Some businesses that are suffering these unforeseen losses are scrambling for anything they can grab that will offer a penny more in reduction of the losses (no one is speaking about profits except the banks).

The businesses operating on this selfish “save-my-own-behind” mandate should tread carefully in trying to bleed an already frightened and confused society in the middle of a State of Emergency. Squeezing pennies from other people’s fear is one step too far. Chickens ALWAYS come home to roost – corporate boards should remember this.

For example- I would like to see the political opposition parties invest less energy in the technicalities of re-appointing a city police chief and start researching options to re-build Namibia post-COVID-19. How many jobs does the furore over that post create?

Changing police leadership in the middle of global pandemic is ridiculous anyway. No one is screaming that Chief Kanime is incompetent or not qualified, only that a bureaucratic, paper technicality wasn’t followed precisely when he resigned vs reappointment. Big deal…we have massive explosions going off at the front door and these people are screaming about changing the sofa in the living room.

We must keep perspective. Focus on what matters to human life.

How we will manage Hepatitis E and now swine flu on pig farms. Are ARVs reaching those who need them? TB medicines are still available to all infected? Do the State Hospitals have enough medicine? How will we re-open schools and get our kids on track again. How will we manage the massive unemployment from the dying tourism and wounded construction industries?

How can we get our thin-skinned police and defence force officers who are rampaging amongst disadvantaged communities to stop beating people as a first resort. Those same officers wouldn’t DARE whip a white person, even if they were visibly breaking the same laws.

For the ruling Swapo party that won independence largely because of mass support from the basic Namibians, it is time to reconnect with the ordinary people. Shake yourself out of comfortable complacency. Non-active members, think-tanks, and regional leaders need to wake-up. Being a ruling party comes with responsibilities to the entire country, whether Swapo or not. Those very masses being beaten by the police, price gouged by food stores, and laid off in their numbers will be hungry soon. Then what? What is your viable, well-researched recommendation to the government?

The government Food Banks are crippled with credible reports of food primarily going to those who support the ruling party or have ‘friends and family’ in the distribution chain. To some extent, this is always going to happen. But, the checks-and-balances needed to suppress these selfish and corrupt tendencies, are not working. No one is watching except the people NOT receiving food baskets. And they are getting angrier by the day. Then what?

The N$750 grant is a good thing. But, with nearly 1 million applications, 40 percent of which are disqualified, and not even half of the number remaining receiving money yet, we are walking on thin ice with mass tolerance. Then what?

We must focus on rebuilding and we must work together. Let us not get distracted by petty politics, inane side issues and infights. These things are a very dangerous noise when we all need to hear and see very, very clearly right now.