By Kuvee Kangueehi
Windhoek – The Namibia Farmworkers Union (Nafwu) says the repossession or auctioning of houses of defaulting low-income residents must be stopped and a better solution be found.
The Windhoek Municipality has been auctioning low-income houses especially in Katutura when owners fail to pay electricity and water bills.
The situation has left many families homeless and Nafwu said the practice clearly contradicts Government’s vision of eradicating poverty.
At a press conference last week, the president of Nafwu, Alfred Angula, said the union has observed that low category employees especially domestic workers have lost their houses due to non-payment of utility bills.
Angula said it is not that they do not want to pay, but it is because they do not have enough resources and these people are mostly single women.
“Their salaries are not enough to sustain any of their essential basics such as the increased transport, food, electricity and water bills and thus poor people have no option but to prioritise their expenditures.”
Nafwu said it is high time that the municipality takes a re-look of the matter and make prices affordable, especially on water and electricity.
Angula said it appears when the municipality pegs their increments on utility bills, they do not bear in mind that not every person can afford to pay, especially the lowly paid members of society.
“After all, these poor communities are the ones that elect the local councillors and therefore it is the work of the councillors to see that what they decide is affordable.”
Nafwu further called for the introduction of a living wage in the country, which will be adjustable with inflation. Angula noted that there is also an urgent need to set up as soon as possible a national pension scheme especially in the low paid category.
Nafwu also touched on the issue of Chinese businesses, saying their shops should be inspected to make sure that they comply with the rules and regulations of the country.
“It is worrisome to see how these workers are being treated in these shops. This practice must end and people need to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Angula did not come up with a figure that domestic workers should earn, but said the union is currently consulting with domestic workers to come up with a figure or an amount that should be considered as a living wage in the sector.
He said the low-income earners are mainly farm workers, domestic workers, charcoal burners and shop attendants, especially the ones that work at Chinese shops.
“They work odd hours and get very little pay without due regard to the high cost of living.”