A Looting Continua!

How obvious is it not a greedy abuse of policies that the widow of a long-serving government minister is given a N$3 million house in an upmarket area of Windhoek just because she is classified as a veteran of the liberation struggle?

Opposition lawmaker Joseph Kauandenge could not have summed it up better in saying that even Cabinet ministers have abused policies like affirmative action and ‘previously disadvantaged’ terminology to get themselves farms at government expense while claiming “resettlement”.

Kauandenge raised an important point in parliament this week. He urged that policies and terminology be reviewed in order to end wanton looting and avaricious self-enrichment by those entrusted with managing public resources.

“We are saying we are also ‘previously disadvantaged’. Are we being fair to the process?” Nudo’s Kauandenge asked in the National Assembly, questioning whether people with financial and other resources should get farms or other benefits simply because policy terminology might include them.

“They are resettled per the terminology, and they could have acquired those farms commercially through banks,” he noted.

Julia Pandeni, as reported in The Namibian yesterday, was given a N$3 million government house allegedly because she had nowhere to live.

She is the widow of former local government and housing minister John Pandeni, who was also governor of the Khomas region for 12 years. Pandeni died in March 2008 following a motor vehicle accident.

Pandeni’s family could by no stretch of the imagination be classified as underprivileged as the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs would have the public believe.

“The veteran concerned does not own a house, nor hold a title deed in Namibia, which is the primary requirement for the housing programme [of liberation struggle veterans],” argued veterans ministry spokesperson Petrus Shilumbu in response to queries from The Namibian.

The greed of a small section of Namibian leaders and their relatives, friends and associates is apparently so overwhelming they’ll justify what can only be seen as the looting of public resources at the expense of the poorest citizens.

Laws and policies have been crafted in a way that benefits the very people elected or appointed to ensure better lives for the masses.

The veterans law has been structured in such a way that loopholes mean the most privileged can claim housing, N$200 000 payouts for self-serving projects, N$2 000 a month allowances, you name it…; resettlement policies are open to abuse because supposedly anyone who was in political exile until independence qualifies for state farm land.

Further, ‘previously disadvantaged Namibians’ are automatically entitled to fishing permits and mining licences because apartheid explicitly kept blacks away from the economic frontline.

To make it worse, all these schemes are meant to serve a small section of the population.

The fine print Kauandenge is calling to be addressed is that government officials (elected and bureaucrats) determine who eats from the trough of public money. And they put themselves, their relatives, friends and business associates front and centre of the queues.

Instead of addressing the underprivileged who voluntarily fought for independence, policies on “veterans of the Namibian liberation struggle” serve as rewards for the mercenary.

It is apparently not enough that the government crafted salaries, housing and car allowances, retirement benefits, and perks like subsistence and travel allowances (S&Ts) as “decent remuneration” so that civil servants could ostensibly focus on public service.

If anything, many of these policies have damaged industries that would have created jobs . The Fishrot corruption scandal left scores of people unemployed. Land resettlement has contributed massively to food insecurity as the greedy ruling elite took some of the most productive farms and turned them into weekend hobbies or holiday toys.

Clearly, greedy rulers continue to delude themselves and their blind voting followers that Namibia is a bottomless ocean full of all manner of riches.

That’s despite being a country where about 70% of the citizens are poor and the less than 5% filthy rich barely break a sweat.

Drastic change is required. As it is, the liberation struggle slogan ‘a luta continua’ has been replaced with ‘looting continues’.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News