IN the meantime it may surprise some of these critics that I do take issue with what is termed the ‘2012 Misery Index’ and which classified Namibia as the sixth worst country in the world in this regard. Recently reported on in our news media, the Index adds a country’s unemployment rate to its inflation rate over a given period, and the higher the score, the worse the economy of the country in question. Namibia’s score in the current Index is 56.5. Zimbabwe, judged the ‘most miserable’ country in the world, had a score of over 100 per cent.
In taking issue with our classification, I am not arguing that there is no misery in Namibia. Quite the contrary. Our unemployment rate is estimated at 51 per cent. But sometimes statistics do lie. The figure is high – about this there is no question – but the definition of ‘unemployment’ has begun to trouble me. Many people do not have formal jobs, but there are thousands of people on Government support, including those classified as ‘veterans’ who’ve been given significant sums of money to either invest and/or start small businesses in order to eke out a living. How many have in fact done so is, of course, the question.
Clearly our unemployment ‘figure’ of 51 per cent refers to all those who are technically jobless. I would be curious, for example, to find out how a resettlement farmer is classified in this regard.
Just to summarise, we clearly have a huge unemployment problem, but whether all unemployed are ‘miserable, and without access to government grants, resettlement farms, OVC allowances etc, is another question altogether. And there are some saving graces to being a relatively small population in a large country. There is no huge concentration of the worst kind of squalor and slums that one sees in other densely populated countries of our continent or elsewhere, but there is poverty nonetheless. And the picture could change for the better if our resources were better-managed, the pillaging controlled, and a few decent managers employed.
To come back to my critics and the sad state of affairs in our country, much of it is in fact due to bad management in my view. From Government not taking care of our precious resources, allowing widespread abuse of S&Ts; failing to stem the tide of corruption and enrichment of the few primarily through tender loopholes; the list goes on. Am I overly negative if I point to the issue of bankrupt local authorities, and the sad demise of these as far as good management of our towns and villages are concerned? Do they take us for fools to keep insisting ‘the people cannot afford’ to pay their water bills, for example, when it may just be a matter of shoddy business coordination on the part of paid municipal and village council staff who don’t take their jobs seriously when they are fortunate enough to have them. The overall governance picture is depressing, people, whichever way you look at it.
Time and again I’ve lamented the fact that although we only have a population of about two million, we still cannot manage to feed, clothe, house and educate our nation. This in my view is a travesty and an unfortunate fact directly attributable to Government failure. And this is where, first and foremost, government must account. News reports in the media in recent weeks indicate that there is growing poverty throughout the country, particularly but not only confined to the southern regions. How do we reconcile this picture with the materialistic excess increasingly exhibited by the minority rich. I’m sure the sale of the luxury vehicles on the streets of our capital alone could feed the poor of this country for a year!
Perhaps most of our demise, whether one agrees with the ‘Misery’ Index or not, comes down to a matter of poor management at all levels of society. And we have to ask why poor managers are put in charge of our Ministries, our regional and local governments, and get away with failing at their jobs, and the people they should serve. There are simply no standards, and no one to set them in the public sector.
So I regret having to inform my critics once again that there’s little to crow over right now. Morally and otherwise it would be wrong to pretend that all is well when it is not, and I am afraid I care too much to do that. I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and put it all right, but I cannot. So one continues to hope that those who have the power will realise before it is too late how badly they are letting this country down.
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