ARE we really concerned with our people or do we take them for a ride? Are we serving their interests or trying to please and impress others from outside this country? Do we think, plan, analyze and take into consideration different factors and circumstances or do we only bulldoze things through? Have we become heartless?
Some people have even taken oaths to serve the interests of the people but in some cases, it has proven that some oaths were void and only served as stepping-stones to reach certain levels for own interests.
I am very disturbed by recent activities carried out in accordance with certain directives from whoever. It is disheartening.
First of all I would like to remind those who are responsible for running the affairs of the people as officials of certain state institutions such as municipalities that they are doing it for the people. Going against their interests would have disastrous effects that one might regret. This can be electoral disasters or psychological disturbances of the people at the receiving end and even the further driving of the already desperate people in poverty.
It is hypocritical to call on people to create self-employment but at the same time physically and forcefully block their very efforts.
Coming to my point, I am referring to the situation of the street vendors of Oshakati and Ongwediva and probably Ondangwa would follow suit.
Looking at the rate of unemployment in this country, one would have thought that self-employment would be an alternative. Then people went for that and some of these small businesses have been booming but all of a sudden, somebody decided to reverse the successes of these people on the streets.
This was through the forceful removal of everybody to Omatala. (Ongwediva forced its people years ago out of the streets).
Some of these people have been street vendors at the same places all their lives and had customers at those places. This is a cause of concern.
It is true that there should be kind of order but politicians too should know that they should also be seen to be doing things in an orderly manner and in the interest of the people.
It is disturbing to see that people are no longer allowed to sell their goods, even things such as fat cakes or cooked meat in the shanty areas were they are staying. If you are found, then your pot or container is confiscated. How can you understand that? How can you interpret that? Is this logical? No. This is rather mind-boggling and highly disturbing.
Those in authority might argue that they are merely following the law or that it is universal practice to have streets clean of vendors. Maybe there might be an emulation of some highly developed countries they have visited, read or heard about. But who made that law, is the question I want to tackle.
Do our law or by-law makers take things such as the social or economic conditions of the people, their culture, their history or the history of the country or their living standards or even their geographical locations or laying out of the areas they are living in, into consideration when or before coming up with their laws or by-laws? Therefore, laws cannot be necessarily the same because laws are shaped in accordance with the factors I have mentioned above.
Those who are today rejoicing because of the removal of the street vendors as a job well-done, including the police, should know that this is the opposite of their ‘success’.
The police even went as far as whipping the people with canes, the colonial style. After all they are instruments of force.
Interesting is the fact that Oshakati is a wide area with shops, bars and salons, among others, scattered all over the place. There is actually no business district because the whole of it is a business area.
Now, discrimination is against the other business people, namely, those from the streets. The question is, why not close or rather move all the shops, bars, salons and other business to one place just like you have done with the street vendors if you are fair?
Does it sound logical for a person, for argument’s sake, to take a taxi from Okandjegedhi to Omatala to go and buy Oshiwambo bread for N$1.00, an apple, roasted or cooked meat for N$5.00?
Why not put up stalls at strategic places for these people or tell them to put up structures of a certain standard and allow the people to go on with their businesses if you have their interests at heart?
The people have been based at their strategic places. The argument that some people even come from as far as Ondangwa and Ongwediva to go and sell at Oshakati does not hold water because many of the people living or working in Oshakati today are not originally from that place.
We all want development, yes, but it does not come in one day. It is a long process.
My other comment is on the directives from whoever and carried out by the police today in our country.
I seek clarity on the carrying or possession of so-called dangerous weapons.
In my culture the carrying of a knobkierie is a symbol of manhood and a weapon for self-defence. Carrying a two-edged knife or a bow and arrows is allowed too. Only on very rare occasions is it prohibited.
For example, a two-edged knife is multi-purpose. It can be used as a weapon for self-defence against people or animals, a tool for cutting or as a tool. Statistics have proven that the control of these tools as directed by traditional laws has been good.
Compared to the guns, the traditional weapons have no records of abuse as the guns do. But now it is an offence to carry a traditional weapon. The constitution itself too recommends the upholding of cultures but at the same time the state is using its police to suppress our cultures in the form of confiscating them.
Well if I am in Windhoek which is not my traditional setting I might not carry a weapon but why even in my own area is it an offence? Why should we be denied this constitutional right?
The police themselves carry the most dangerous weapons, namely the guns. Why is it not an offence?
Is our government busy enforcing upon us other cultures? I am sure it is acceptable and considered civilized if I am carrying a pistol, a European weapon but it is an offence if I am found carrying my traditional weapon even if it is found in my car.
Now in an emergency situation when e.g. I need that tool, what do I do or if I am attacked by either an animal or a human being far in the village? I am sure that the standard answer of the police is that you should not take the law in your own hands but report it or call the police. This is the same answer if you are cornered in your own house by assailants. This is ridiculous.
Live and let live is a saying. This is the same in my culture. It is a duty of every member of the community to assist his fellow or even a stranger in a time of need, according to my culture. We have even been taught to be hospitable. But today this good practice is small but surely suppressed and forced to disappear.
For example, it has been declared an offence or a violation of the law to assist a person by way of carrying him in your vehicle if asked for a lift if that person is not closely related to you. Today the police have been given wide powers and orders to question and to pull people out of vehicles if they are not closely related to drivers or owners of vehicles. The practice is a gross violation of the constitution by preventing the freedom of association.
Even the government itself receives assistance from others but citizens are prevented to assist others. Assisting one another has been our culture especially here in the northern part. Otherwise we are forced to uphold other cultures where everyone should be on his own and God for us all.
Since when have we become Europeans who do not even know their neighbours? Are we not on a daily basis encouraged to be Plan Africanists? Quo Vadis?
Lastly, I am appealing to the parliamentarians to make laws that would be in the interests of the people and not to copy or bulldoze unpopular laws onto our people.
The sad part, to borrow from one of Namibia’s patriots, is that Namibians do not listen to Namibians. But there are many talented, brilliant and intelligent Namibians out there whose know-how, talents and brilliant ideas are never utilized and as a result go to waste.