President Hage Geingob yesterday paid tribute to Namibian workers and he specifically mentioned the late John ya Otto, a man whom he described as always having the interest of workers at heart.
Addressing the Workers Day rally yesterday at Eenhana in Ohangwena Region, an event witnessed by thousands of people among them Swapo Party politburo and central committee members, senior officials and ordinary community members, Geingob said: “I would like to begin by paying tribute to those gallant sons and daughters of Namibia – workers, like many of you here today, whose selfless commitment to the struggle for our independence opened up the doors to freedom, so that we can be gathered here today as free, peaceful and harmonious people.”
“Let us pay tribute to the likes of John ya Otto, a stalwart of the struggle and a man who always had the interest of workers at heart. Let us pay tribute to the likes of Emile Appolus, Peter Mueshihange, Jacob Kuhanga, Andreas Shipanga, Jackson Kuhangua, Jackson Kashikuka, Maxton Joseph Mutongolume, Solomon Mifima and many others who joined Comrade Andimba Toivo ya Toivo in forming OPC, later transformed to OPO.”
Karl Max once said ‘the only antidote to mental suffering is physical pain,’ Geingob quoted the Russian philosopher as having said.
“These stalwarts often endured physical pain in order to free their countrymen and women from the mental suffering caused by the inhumane conditions faced under apartheid South Africa occupation. Today, we can reap the harvest from the seeds that these valiant children of Namibia planted. We salute all our working men and women of Namibia. Your hard work and industry is the fuel that keeps our economy burning,” stated Geingob.
“There is a saying, ‘without labour nothing prospers.’ As we continue down the road towards economic prosperity, it is you – the workers – whose labour will drive Namibia’s prosperity.”
Geingob also noted it was Namibian workers that were fed up with the segregative contract labour system that initiated the first steps towards the culmination of the country’s long and bitter armed struggle for its independence.
“Today we find ourselves in the midst of the second phase of struggle – that of economic emancipation – it will be our Namibian workers again at the forefront, manning the frontlines of our war against poverty and our quest for shared prosperity,” said the president.
Namibian contract workers in Cape Town, he noted, formed the Ovambo People’s Congress (OPC) whose primary objective was the abolishment of the repressive contract labour system.
OPC, he reminisced, transformed into Ovambo People’s Organisation that transformed into Swapo Party, the liberation movement that took up arms against the South African regime.
During the liberation struggle on April 24, 1971, Swapo formed the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) in Tanga in the Republic of Tanzania.
Swapo, being a people-centred party, created the NUNW with the knowledge that the structural efficiency of a trade union would help play a role in redressing social imbalances through the process of effective bargaining for better benefits to its affiliate members, he said.
“Government is resolute in its commitment towards fighting poverty and corruption. The economy will play a crucial role in this war and so will our workers.”
Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP)
“Under Pillar 4 of the Harambee Prosperity Plan, which deals with social advancement, the government plans to tackle poverty head-on, by generating inclusive wealth through the creation of decent job opportunities,” Geingob stressed – “and to create more jobs we must become more competitive as an economy and as a workforce in order to attract labour-intensive investments.”
“Today we are talking about smart work. Like all other forms of human interaction in today’s world the working environment is affected by information technology. We are living in the information age and the way we work is dependent on our ability to adapt to technology.”
He said inclusivity spells harmony and peace and that exclusivity spells discord and conflict, while unity is strength. “Division is weakness and sharing is wealth – twenty-seven years after independence we can no longer tolerate to live in Namibia where the minority own all the means of production and the wealth, while the majority continue to languish in poverty. That is why HPP postulates the principle of shared prosperity.”