WINDHOEK – Seasoned politician, businessman and one of the authors of the Namibian Constitution, Dirk Mudge, says he has a burning desire to do “something for the people of my country, those who really need [help], black or white”.
The octogenarian, who just sold his family-business interests in one of the country’s flagship media houses, which owns an impressive stable of newspapers and printing interests, says his main focus will be on young school-leavers, who drop out of high school every year only to loiter in the country’s streets.
Mudge is going to dedicate his time to a charity for vocational training, skills development and support to young entrepreneurs.
“I feel sorry for the hundreds of matriculants leaving school at the end of every year. They do not qualify to go to go to university,” said Mudge in a wide-ranging exclusive interview with New Era. The charity will primarily be funded with proceeds from the sale of the media house empire.
Mudge recently sold his remaining 50 percent shareholding in the company Democratic Media Holdings to Stimulus Investments.
The charity, which is still in its formulation stage, will cater for training, assistance to young businesspeople, especially in bookkeeping and proper business management, as well as work with poor rural communities.
“Maybe there is this feeling that one must go to university to make a living. My experience is that technicians and artisans can make more money than those who went to university. But [many Namibian school-leavers] cannot go there, so they leave school and remain unemployed,” he said.
It will be sometime before the charity takes shape and Mudge emphasised that due diligence will be taken to ensure that the “money is not wasted and the efforts yield positive effects”.
“Charity can be interpreted wrongly, it can be a misnomer - it is not about giving people fish but teaching people how to fish,” said Mudge.
“I want to do something for the people of my country, those who really need it, white and black. The country has been good to us even though I am not a rich man. I want to assist, not to oppose the government. We will cooperate with the government as far as possible,” Mudge was at pains to explain the reasons why he chose to embark on charity work.
He is already in consultation with various government ministries on how best to structure the charity organisation.
Mudge founded the media house during the late 1980’s, which now owns the Afrikaans daily newspaper Republikein, the German daily newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung and the English daily newspaper Namibian Sun.
It also owns Newsprint Namibia, which currently prints all Namibian newspapers, as well as numerous commercial publications.
The company started scaling down in 2007 when it sold a portion of its then 100 percent shareholding to South Africa’s Media24 group.