Ramatex will as of January no longer be available to host events, such as boxing and the popular Namibian Annual Music Awards, because government will use it as an interim food bank to kickstart the long-awaited programme to tackle malnutrition and hunger as part of the war on poverty.
In October President Hage Geingob revealed that Namibia has set aside N$50 million for the establishment of food banks across the country to feed the country’s destitute. At the time Geingob also sought to dispel claims that such a social provision would create a “dependency syndrome”.
City of Windhoek acting chief executive officer Fillemon Nangolo Hambuda told New Era on Monday that they have availed Ramatex complex – which has mostly been left idle – to be used as a temporary food bank. Hambuda said the request to use Ramatex came from State House, while government is constructing the food bank.
Regular reports of people scavenging and feeding on food thrown onto dumpsites, especially in Windhoek, prompted government’s decision to establish food banks as a matter of urgency.
“State House requested from us if they can use Ramatex while government is building the food bank and we agreed, because this is a national priority. The letter was then signed by our mayor (Muesee Kazapua) to give the green light.
“We already told our department of economic development to stop leasing Ramatex,” while the food bank gets off the ground, he said.
The Ramatex complex will be used until the government completes construction of the new facility for that purpose. The City Council donated a plot near the Swapo head office for the establishment of the food bank.
“There is a deadline for the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare to start with the food bank and because of the process of allocating the land, such as coming up with the plan, we availed Ramatex. The ministry does not have to wait any longer. From January onwards, they can use Ramatex. There was already a groundbreaking ceremony. We wrote a letter to the President (Hage Geingob) and pledged to fight against poverty and hunger,” he said.
Hambuda further said once the construction is complete, the City of Windhoek would resume renting out the facility. Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Zephania Kameeta applauded the City of Windhoek for availing land for the establishment of the food bank.
He is, however, not too pleased with officials who fail to implement national projects on time.
“One big reason for poverty is that we don’t implement things. I don’t think it is bureaucracy, it’s just that people don’t want to work. Things should not be business as usual. Programmes should not be postponed. People are hungry in our cities. Namibians don’t stop wearing expensive clothes, even if they are hungry. You see those wearing nice things on the streets, but they are hungry… and with hunger, you can’t sleep,” he stressed.
According to Kameeta, people should start moving away from constantly “testing and piloting” projects and adopt a system of full implementation of projects and programmes to make an impact in the lives of ordinary Namibians.
He suggested people should rather use case studies and review best practices in countries with similar conditions, as pilots for project implementation.
He said malnutrition has far-reaching socio-economic consequences, as there is a strong negative link between malnutrition and academic performance, thus further trapping poor families in the vicious cycle of poverty.
Statistics show that about 42 percent of Namibians are malnourished, while around one quarter of all children are stunted in their growth, due mainly to a lack of protein, vitamins and minerals.
On a positive note, Kameeta said Walvis Bay and Helao Nafidi town councils have also pledged their readiness to avail land for the establishment of food banks.