The Independence Goodies and the Apartheid Legacy

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro IT is highly gratifying to see the government handing over a number of houses to some veterans of the liberation struggle. This act of magnanimity and care on the part of the government cannot and should not be seen as any form of compensation. In fact, President Hifikepunye Pohamba could not have been more categorical and to the point when he amplified the very same point at the handing over of the keys to one of the houses to the war veteran, Mbulunganga Ndakolo, last weekend. In the first place, anyone who took part in this war did so on a voluntary basis. Secondly, we are all today enjoying the greatest compensation that we could have wished, and that is the independence of this country that we achieved on 21 March 1990. However what kind of government would our government be if it turns a blind eye to the unacceptable social conditions of squalor and destitution a great number of our populace are burdened with. These conditions are not self-made and it is not as if those who are currently feeling the pinch thereof can help it. They are a legacy of the Apartheid era that condemned them to the fringes of livelihood then. And to date, they have to endure its vicious legacy. This is a legacy we cannot hope to undo within a short period of our national existence. And therein lies the small beginnings as small as they are to ameliorate the plight of our former liberators. The provision of houses to the veterans is one such small beginning. While it is true that all of those who partook in the national liberation struggle did so voluntarily and thus cannot expect compensation, this must go for all. But the unpalatable stark reality of the socio-political landscape today, to the dismay of the mass of the wretched of the earth in the Land of the Brave, is that somehow some for some dubious reasons seem more deserving and entitled to the freedom goodies. Others who may be equally deserving, just because of their class, or because of their presumably lower or undeserving social standing in terms of Namibia’s post-democratic revolution capitulation, have to eke out the existence of paupers. Meantime, the few who are presumably deserving busy themselves with actively looting the national resources with impunity to satisfy their own avarice and decadence. For some unexplained reasons bordering on the betrayal of the national trust and a travesty of the spirit of our great forefathers, pioneers of our national revolution, we find today some so-called civil servants being the very enemy of the public they are supposed to serve, their sole interest being ill-gotten material, things that the country itself can ill-afford. Every occasion represents in their eyes a lifetime chance to tuck away the country’s resources to keep alive their high-oiled livelihoods amidst grilling poverty of their fellows. A case in point: the millions of dollars lost every year in subsistence and travel allowances through the unscrupulous activities of high-ranking civil servants. Providing anyone with a roof over her/his head is not a mean feat. That is why the government needs a pat on the back for its gesture of magnanimity and care towards the war veterans. They have and are being endowed with a lifetime investment and something to bequeath their children when they are no more. Owning a house is something few would have dreamt of. Not conversely, housing for the poor is not in the same league as housing for the well-to-do and cannot be compared with the luxuriousness of the lucrative perks that seem to eat so much into the coffers of the government. The government can by no means be compared to providing perks.