As one of the many who suffer because of this ministry’s ineptness and inefficiency, I was most impressed with your demands for improvement. That you regard the public as customers and that official working hours should actually be adhered to, is a pleasant surprise. That civil servants should be aware that taxpayers pay their salaries and that “rotten apples” will be eliminated is something new in this country. After all, servants should serve, and civil servants should be civil as well. To improve the quality of service delivery and to root out corruption is a most noble undertaking! Up to now one rapidly gained the impression of being treated like a beggar when dealing with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
I am one of the many people awaiting the outcome of their application for permanent residence. My case is probably a bit unusual, since I regard myself as a third-generation Namibian: My grandfather was a German trooper, my father was born in Karibib, but I was born in Germany as a by-product of the Second World War. At the age of 41⁄2 years, in 1950, I came (back) to what is now Namibia with my family. I grew up here, went to school here, studied in RSA and then worked here. In 1971 I left SWA and went into “voluntary exile”. I came back 30 years later to Namibia to retire here.
The immigration authorities in Walvis Bay informed me that I needed to apply for temporary residence for five consecutive years in order to obtain permanent residence. This I did. The sluggishness and arbitrariness with which my application for permanent residence has been treated arouses the suspicion of deliberate discrimination. For example, the same checklist was returned to me three times with different requirements, the last one being “proof of legal status in Namibia”. What may come as a surprise to the (un)civil servants in the ministry is that my legal status is “temporary residence” issued by the same ministry in the same offices, with the same file number and it is blatantly apparent from my application anyway.
Due to the painfully slow processing of my permanent residence application, I have to apply for temporary residence every year. When that expires after a year and my permanent residence has not been granted yet, I have to apply for another year’s temporary residence. Ad infinitum?
The countless attempts to phone somebody at Home Affairs in Windhoek and the several personal visits to their offices have been – to put it mildly – extremely frustrating! One tries to phone a person in Home Affairs after nine o’clock; usually there is no reply; if one is lucky, the phone is answered but the desired person is in a meeting; if one is extremely lucky, it is answered by the right person; one then usually gets a completely unsatisfactory reply – like, you will be notified, or phone me back in 10 minutes or this afternoon, whereafter that person is not reachable for the rest of that day; or the person whom one spoke to yesterday and who promised to look into the matter, is now on holiday; or one is put through to another person who does not answer the phone; when one phones back the first person, who now doesn’t answer the phone either; and so on and so forth. A frustrating and tiring begging exercise.
Being a pensioner, I receive my income from abroad, bring money into the country, and do not take away any Namibian’s employment; on the contrary, I invested in property here and provide employment for several Namibians. I speak some of the many languages of Namibia: Afrikaans, English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, a bit of Oshiwambo and Otjiherero and I think I can reproduce the four clicks of Nama/Damara. So there is no apparent reason for delaying my permanent residence permit. Obviously, the state of Namibia is not obliged to grant me or anybody else any residence rights. What I can expect, however, is a fair and expeditious process with a clear result – not an everlasting uncertainty.
Again, Meme Pendukeni, congratulations on your strong pronouncements and may you succeed in the strenuous task of streamlining the Ministry of Home Affairs!