15 Feb 2011 - Story by Irene !HoaÃ«s
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WINDHOEK â€" Champion of the Namibian Basic Income Grant (BIG) who is also the coalition's chairman, Bishop Zephania Kameeta, says BIG is not "Zephania Kameeta" but part of a global demand.
According to Kameeta, Namibia is part of a global campaign group which demands a universal BIG.
"I am getting the impression that BIG is another name for Zephania Kameeta. And there are no Germans standing behind BIG, but it was a proposal that came through a Cabinet Committee," he added.
The Bishop was a speaker at a public lecture by Brazilian Senator, Eduardo Suplicy, who is on a crusade that advocates a universal basic income for all citizens of the world as one of the most efficient ways of eradicating absolute poverty.
The lecture, organised by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), looked at "Cash transfers to fight poverty: experience from Brazil."
"We must be proud of BIG and not condemn it. Words and debates were not enough, hence BIG was started," Kameeta told a packed hall of interested Namibians and visitors from other SADC countries.
He said BIG is based on justice and dignity for all and to promote peace and stability.
"Peace is not only the absence of war. How can a person with no house or food be at peace? Peace is the presence of justice and sharing and it is not only for Namibia," the clergyman emphasised.
Kameeta said BIG is a direct way to address poverty without complications, so that all can have a stake in the wealth of the country.
Namibia has the highest inequality rate in the world, according to recent statistics.
Kameeta said he just does not want to hear about the wealth of the country but experience it himself.
"It is so simple â€" money from the mines and tourism should be transferred into people's bank accounts! Let the income from the uranium mines, tourism and fisheries pay dividends in my account â€" that way it will not disappear," he said in apparent reference to millions of Namibian taxpayers' money lost due to theft and corruption.
He said Namibians have the tendency to want to make sure that something works elsewhere before anything can be introduced in the country.
"Why should it work somewhere else before we can do it here," he asked.
According to the assessment report of the BIG Coalition, after the introduction of BIG at Otjivero, crime is significantly lower compared to the period before the grant, while food poverty has been reduced to 16 percent in one year by BIG.
In November 2007, 73 percent of households indicated they did not always have sufficient food.
In addition, the malnutrition rate decreased from 42 percent in November 2007 to 17 percent within six months, down to only 10 percent after a year.
The Namibian Government is not so keen on the possible introduction of the grant.
The Brazilian Senator met both the Prime Minister and President, but what transpired behind the closed-door meetings is still a secret, as nothing has been revealed.