Rundu-Governor of Kavango East Region Dr Samuel Mbambo recently headed a 35-member team comprising of delegates from his office, state-owned enterprises and farmers on a study tour to Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe.
The aim of the weeklong familiarization trip to Mashonaland West was to explore areas of possible cooperation and business opportunities. Mbambo and his delegation also held meetings, including ones focusing on cooperation in food production and value addition with the aim of replicating what they learned to alleviate hunger and work towards poverty eradication.
“The interest that brought us here is the food production business. Whatever has to do with food is very important for us to learn from our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe,” said Mbambo. “We want to learn how they are going about producing their food and ensure that they are economically viable.”
They toured Best Fruit Processors in Norton, Pickstone Mine, Kadoma Paper Mills, Gwebi College, Highbury Estates, Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT), Lions Den Silos and many others.
Mbambo said the trip thrilled him.
“I am very much excited to be here, because this is the beginning of our dream becoming a reality, our dream to become a bread basket of our country. This dream is a difficult journey, full of challenges from within and without the country. This journey will be difficult, because there are people in this world who believe that Africa cannot feed her own children, but that she was cursed to be a beggar forever.
“Some people believe that – despite the abundant natural resources with which Africa is blessed – her children are cursed to be the poorest of the poor; that Africa should not sit at the table with all members of the global village and enjoy her own bread, but wait for the crumbs that fall from the table,” he stated.
“Therefore it is important that those of us who decided to undertake this journey must know that it will cost sweat and tears. This is a journey of economic emancipation, a journey of economic self-reliance,” said Mbambo
“The first phase of our liberation struggle [was] the armed liberation struggle. That phase was characterised by the sound of liberating music instruments, such as AK-47, Bazooka and the ‘Stalin Organ’ or better known as ‘Katusha’ or 40 barrels. Secondly, this day opened the second phase of our liberation struggle – for economic independence.
“The post-independence period is also known as the second phase of the liberation struggle. As long as this second phase of the struggle is not yet won, we will always say, quoting Odinga Oginga, the first vice-president Kenya: ‘It is not yet Uhuru.’”
He further said that two very important events took place on March 21, 1990. The first chapter of this phase was laid down by founding president Sam Nujoma with the policy of peace and reconciliation. This period was followed by the policy of stability that was under the supervision of Namibia’s second president Hifikepunye Pohamba.
“We are now in the third chapter of economic emancipation, called prosperity, steered by our current President Dr Hage Geingob. President Geingob believes that for prosperity to become a reality it is important that drastic steps be taken.
“It should not and must not be business as usual. That is why the president declared all-out war against hunger and poverty. Hunger and poverty eradication is only possible with the creation of wealth,” Mbambo stated.
In addition, the first step towards wealth creation that will eradicate hunger and poverty is food production. “As a region, blessed with perennial rivers, fertile soil, suitable climate and sufficient rainfall, we decided to partake in the war against poverty through food production programmes. Our programme of food production is called “Operation Werengendje,” he further said.
The word ‘Werengendje’ means termites or ants. Termites are hard-working insects that gather their food in summer before winter. “We looked at this hardworking, focus-minded, persistent, tenacious small creature and named our programme of food production after it,” he noted.
Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Cde Faber Chidarikire described the visit as an opportunity for the province to showcase some of their projects and products. “This is really a way of trying to promote business coming into this country, so that we increase our exports and thereby boost our economic turnaround,” he said.
* Grace Mutelo is an information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) based in Rundu.