Something’s Fishy


Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro VIBES from different sources indicate that the regions of Omaheke and Otjozondjupa are this year not having their respective regional mini shows. Instead, they are melting these two shows into one inter-regional show of which the date has as yet to be announced. The show was initially scheduled for Okamatapati but it was then shifted to Okakarara, which as per the rotation of the Otjozondjupa regional show is next in line as host. However, with different stakeholders threatening to boycott, Okondjatu has come in as compromise host. Thus, the date has to be re-negotiated as well and shall be made known in due course. But coming back to the essence of my indulgence, there is nothing inherently wrong with an inter-regional show. In fact, it must have been coming sooner or later as a natural progression of the respective shows in these two regions or any other regions for that matter. However, it is uncertain from the public shadow-boxing that has been going on mostly on the NBC Otjiherero Language Service, what the real reasons are for the relegation of the respective local shows in these two regions to oblivion, at least for this year, and the preponderance of the inter-regional one over the other two. Amidst the public posturing why the two local shows are not taking place in the two respective regions, the explanation that has been filtering through, especially for the non-occurrence of the Omaheke one, is because of lack of sponsorship, giving the impression that the Consortium that has been providing sponsorship in this regard through the Namibian National Farmers Union (NNFU), is not able to honour its pledge this year. However, information at my disposal indicates that these are half-truths. This year, I am made to understand, the Consortium has to cater for more local mini shows, about 46 in total, all clamouring for sponsorship from the Consortium. Out of its total budget of N$430,000, the Consortium budgeted N$230,000 towards mini shows on the local level. This leaves N$200,000 for regional shows and with four proposals for regional shows having been submitted, that leaves N$50,000 for each. Not only that but I gather the Consortium has also not received any request for the sponsorship of any inter-regional show. Thus, with only N$50,000 for their respective regional showpieces, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa decided to rather pool their resources into one inter-regional show. With misrepresentation or misunderstanding as to the true state of affairs with regard to sponsorship, it is most disturbing that Otjozondjupa and Omaheke – relatively two of the country’s leading communal areas in terms of development in both animal husbandry and the advanced level of their farmers’ organisations – are somehow unable to stand on their own and stage their respective regional shows in the face of an increased demand on the pie of the Consortium. Yes, it is true that these farmers’ organisations are still struggling with the legacy of colonial underdevelopment in every area of human endeavour imaginable. Not only that but independence has also heralded added responsibilities for the communal farmers and their organisations via having to carry the costs for services, such as water supply, amongst others. While accepting that added responsibility, still the rural farming community cannot forever continue to want to live on handouts. Sooner or later, they have to start to learn to fend for themselves. They have got the wherewithal provided they start thinking in that direction because it is not fair to expect the Consortium to provide for every of their needs. We are here talking about two of the communal regions that are key contributors to the beef industry in this country. Yet, they do not seem to rely on own efforts. Obviously something must be wrong. These regions produce hundreds if not thousands of livestock for the market every year. Thousands of Namibian dollars are earned in commissions every month. Who receives these commissions and to what end are they applied? I would have thought whoever receives these commissions should ideally plough them back into the needy communities. Sponsoring events like agricultural shows of which the ultimate objective is improved animals leading in turn to better auction prices and ultimately commissions, is a worthwhile cause. This is not to say that farmers’ unions are completely useless to their members. Yes, they may be useful but if their usefulness is only known to them and their members then can’t you blame the likes of us for harbouring that view. Unless those receiving these commissions can show their communities, and the broader public, how they plough back into these communities, there is as yet little to show that those who pocket the commissions are worthy of them. It is time the respective communities wake up and realise that some of their organisations pocketing these commissions have been taking them for a ride. I am reliably informed that somehow for own selfish reasons some of these organisations are no more than mere fly-by-night money-grabbers teaming up with unscrupulous traditional leaders to siphon off money that should otherwise accrue to well-meaning legitimate farmers’ organisations for the benefit of farming communities. It is high time that these farming communities hold these organisations accountable. It is not only the various communal farmers’ associations that can and must learn to stand on their own feet but equally their more advanced and commercial counterparts must own up to their responsibilities of giving their not so privileged unequals the necessary push. Not only that but businesses in these regions that are currently not part of the Consortium must also start living up to their responsibilities. Last but not the least, farmers’ organisations vying for these commissions abound. It is high time that some order is introduced so that scarce resources are not unnecessarily spread thinly among organisations all claiming to serve the best interests of the farmers. Times may be hard and I am aware that to some people some of these organisations are a vital source of income if not livelihood. But it’s time that we also start to think about the welfare and wellbeing of our broader communities.

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