By Frederick Philander
The announcement by the President on Wednesday on the zero-rating on certain food items was a total anti-climax for many Namibians, the Public Service Union said in a statement over the weekend.
“The Namibian nation has been waiting with bated breath for the crucial announcement by Government on how it will assist it with the soaring costs of basic food items. The hopes of many – and for obvious reasons – were that they will be partly relieved of the price burden on items such as maize meal, mahangu and fuel items including cooking oil and paraffin,” said the Secretary General of the PSUN, Victor Kazonyati.
He claimed that the vast majority of people in Namibia, as indeed in the whole of Southern Africa, depend on either maize meal or mahangu.
“The failure by the Government to consider assisting the overwhelming majority of ordinary citizens in acquiring these essential, yet, very expensive food items at an affordable price amounts to an indictment of these people to a certain future of doom and starvation. The price of these two staple food items remains very high and practically beyond the means of many households in Namibia,” he said.
Recent drought and subsequent floods that engulfed the better part of our northern lands – the natural growing areas for these crops – have exacerbated this situation.
“Government, instead of addressing this problem by at least introducing a subsidy on these food items because of their relative importance to the majority of the people, goes on to tackle beans and bread instead. It goes without saying that the Government is addressing more peripheral issues while the real problems scream for its attention,” he said.
It is the very same tactics the Government is using through the Anti-Corruption Commission harassing all and sundry over insignificant transgressions, while the big fish are left to race a route through national coffers carting away millions of Namibian dollars through corrupt practices with virtual impunity, he said.
“People who consume beans and bread are largely the well-off few, who are least affected by the current food prices anyway and they are the ones to benefit from the latest batch of VAT scrapping. The vast majority of Namibians will only enjoy a 15 percent reduction in the price of cooking oil and the fat – whatever that is,” he concluded.