First Lady Monica Geingos yesterday spoke passionately about social inequality, stressing that each and every individual has a part to play in bettering the lives of the less privileged, in a society that is split between the rich and those who are destitute.
Corruption, tribalism and inequality contribute to inequality and the people who are left to suffer are the poor, while the rich become richer and the vicious cycle continues unabated, she said.
She highlighted this during a moving speech at a leadership conference yesterday where renowned American preacher and author Bishop T.D. Jakes also shared insights on leadership.
“Corruption is fuelled by greed,” she said, adding that the fruits of corruption, tribalism and inequality include hatred.
“Anything that’s about exclusion is bad,” said Madam Geingos, asking why the structural indifferences are not being addressed.
The first lady, who continually made reference to a payslip of a woman who earned N$4 000, halved to N$2 000 after several deductions and is often left with very little money to survive, asked why there are still structural differences 26 years after independence.
“Why are we not fixing this?” said the first lady, who stressed that everybody has a part to play in addressing inequality.
The government can have good plans in place and be free of corruption but the people who are to execute the country’s vision should be committed and ethical, or else there would still be problems within the system, she said.
“We cannot legislate integrity, we cannot legislate ethics. Each of us has a responsibility to remove someone from poverty,” said Geingos. She also gave insight on how some relatives tend to use her status and that of her husband to solicit money for personal gain. It is not uncommon for them to receive phone calls from relatives asking for money and using words such as, ‘I saw you donating generators but we here are suffering,’ while in a separate instance a relative asked the president for a N$1 million ‘loan’.
She also gave insight into her relationship with her children, saying she had to constantly “beg” her son to study hard and had to pay for tutors for him to succeed.
Her daughter on the other hand is the more brilliant and committed to her studies and did not have to be forced to study.
She used this example to illustrate that there are brilliant children in the informal settlements and other areas where they are disadvantaged, who will never get the chance that her children got and therefore have a greater chance of remaining in poverty.
Bishop Jakes who was impressed with the first lady’s speech said there are similar problems in the United States of America and many other parts of the world, and that these problems “only have different names but are the same”.
Jakes also feels that what could have led to the formation of ISIS is that some of these people do not have a platform to express their anger that has been bottled up for a long time, and they try to express their anger and frustrations either by blowing themselves up or bombing buildings.
Jakes stressed the importance of people-centric leadership and relationships.
“It is the team that makes the dream work,” said Jakes.
Meanwhile, Jakes also paid a courtesy call on President Hage Geingob who gave an insight on the country and its fight against poverty. Geingob said the country has governance architecture in place, free and fair elections, a macro-economic architecture, a banking system, all that work although Namibia depends on South Africans, sometimes.
“The social economy architecture is a problem. That’s why I declared war on poverty. We need your advice, guidance and prayers because poverty must be fought.”
He said it important to have decent shelter, food, clothing and basic necessities. “We have declared a project called Harambee, it is exciting, and people are excited. We looked into that, and you can advise us.”
Jakes said such challenges are not unique to Namibia and they are the “world over”.
Jakes said he is grateful to be able to lend whatever support he can and considers himself as a brother in the struggle.
“The exchange of ideas, exchange of business and entrepreneurship is vital to the revitalization not only of your great country but also for ours and our people. I am really excited by the opportunity and believe together we can really make a difference,” said Jakes.
Furthermore, Jakes expressed his belief that the faith community has a responsibility to broaden its borders beyond just the discussion of faith to a broader opportunity to amass people, to motivate them and achieve outside the walls of the church. “This has helped very much among African-Americans who fight some of the same ills,” he said.
“If you took the African-American community and saw them isolated as a country, we would in many ways be a struggling third world country – people are suffering beyond the poverty line. The challenge remains the same.”
He added that he is trying to stimulate conversations between businesses in America and businesses in various African countries. “The birthing of business revitalizes the community, it makes my job as a clergyman easier. When people can eat and have a house to sleep in, when they are not desperate for survival, they hear the message a lot better,” said Jakes.
As per Geingob’s request Jakes prayed for the president, those who labour with him and for the country. He also prayed for the country’s booming economy, innovation, strategy and tenacity.