The recent back-and-forth between burned out ‘residents’ of Twaloloka and a landless group claiming to be born in Walvis Bay, shows the ugly spectre of disunity. The latter group is angry. They purport to have been waiting for land without results. They object to the fire victims who are supposedly not originally from Walvis Bay and yet are set to receive plots.
Times are tough; the worst breakdown is where groups begin to compare their poverty and stubbornly claim that theirs is worse. Two groups of landless, impoverished people fighting each other solves nothing. It does not address the root problems that have caused the housing and land crisis in the first place.
Namibia will not survive if it is not unified. If each region, sub-region, group, community, neighbourhood or family is intransigent in their specific demands over all others, the country will disintegrate. There is no way forward as a unified state without choosing to listen to one another and embrace each other’s lists of priorities. Namibians must not retreat to their own silos.
Rather than fighting each other over the crumbs that fall from the table, people must sit at the table and be diners. Those eating full meals at the table rejoice when others fight over their left-overs. It allows them to go on with their meals while others fight the wrong battles.
The issue to tackle is how can the high unemployment rate be permanently lowered. Income is necessary to own and maintain a house (even a low cost house) or piece of land. It is not the people from burned shacks in Twaloloka or angry people living in rental backyard shacks in Walvis Bay who are responsible for the housing crisis. The demand for change must be placed before those who have the power to make a difference.
There is a social malignancy at play when one set of Namibians calls another set of Namibians, ‘foreigners.’ This is one Namibian nation. Are those from Walvis Bay who use this language secretly wishing for a return to the apartheid notion of ‘bantustans’? Shall people be forced to live and work only in areas where they were born? Shall we all go back to carrying passbooks to move from one part of the country to another? Those calling fellow citizens, ‘foreigners’, regardless of how angry they are, must never use the language of white supremacy to express their discontent.
Natural resources sold on the world’s markets and provide wealth for Namibia are found in different regions of the country. National defence, roadworks, education and healthcare and every other benefit available in Namibia belong to ALL, not only those living in one region or another.
It is a good thing that the government was able to disburse the EIG to all who qualified. Over 720,000 Namibians, from Walvis Bay and everywhere else, received those funds. This is a tremendous achievement. The tax dollars that provided those funds came from taxes paid by ALL Namibians and local businesses, not just those from one area or another.
This is an example of the power of pooling collective national resources. Those in Walvis Bay who call anyone not born in their city ‘foreigners’ need to reconsider this as they pocket their EIG that has been financed by these same ‘foreigners’ who are actually their fellow citizens.
There is enormous pressure and uncertainty faced by those suffering generational poverty. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic. As normal, people take their frustrations out on those who are closest and weakest rather than those perceived to be distant and powerful. In times of trouble the nation must turn TO each other and not ON each other.
Divisions along local lines over individual issues are useless. National unity is needed now more than ever. Infighting and directing frustrations at the wrong targets, drags everyone down. This can make the nation’s survival even more difficult.