WINDHOEK – Leader of the official opposition Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) McHenry Venaani says his party would elevate single mothers out of poverty by introducing water and electricity rebates for them.
This, he said, would help single mothers to better look after their children.
“We are saying every single mother who earns less then N$2,000 per month should get water and electricity rebates,” said Venaani.
Venaani, who is expected to challenge for State House in next year’s presidential elections, said this would be one of the ways to fight poverty and close the inequality gaps in Namibia.
“If you are sitting with seven children and you are a single parent, those children are going to have a wrong start in life. This is inherent and we need to look at poverty interventions through supporting mothers. For example, bolsa familia (a Brazilian social welfare program) took 45 million people out of poverty. But we want to improve on bolsa familia – the biggest pain on poverty lies with single parents and those parents must be given particular support,” stated Venaani.
The leader of the opposition in parliament said questions would be asked on where he would find money to fund his idea.
To this he said: “We are saying the moment we unlock the potential of rural areas, unlock debt capital, the economy will have an injection of over N$500 billion in debt capital. The economy will function at higher rate and people will be able to trade more, send their children to school, modernise agriculture and that is key to us.”
He made the remarks during a meeting with two United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials from the United States of America and a Namibian during a visit to his office on Friday.
The delegates were Hiroko Miyamura, a team leader for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Africa 1 division department of political affairs, and Andreas Karpati, an associate political affairs officer for Southern Africa and Indian Ocean team African 1 division. They were accompanied by Nelson Zakaapi, a monitoring and evaluation analyst at the UN resident coordinator’s office in Windhoek.
The motive of the meeting was for Venaani to give his perspective on key political and socio-economic issues facing Namibia. With information shared, Miyamura stated, it will increase their understanding of the situation in Namibia. She said that the delegation also spoke with representatives of the ruling party Swapo for the same reason. The delegation plans to speak to civil society, diplomatic representatives and UN colleagues here.
Venaani spoke about the country’s property regime, the national housing backlog that he said currently stands at 500,000 housing units, unemployment, poor sanitation, malnutrition, corruption and the country’s foreign policy, among others.
Venaani stated that PDM will push at the second national land conference, slated for this October, for urban land resettlement to give equity to the poor and ensure that they are taken care of.
Venaani also spoke about the banks’ high mortgage and lending rates which, he said, his party will challenge with a motion in the National Assembly. “If you buy a house here for N$1,000,000, you are going to pay over N$2 million after 20 years and that is what is happening. That’s why we have one of the highest property prices in the world because the banks are over-profiting. Even if the economy is bad, they are making huge profits,” Venaani observed.
“If you give urban land resettlement to the poor, you proliferate the economy of demand and supply because if you have more land the land prices become cheaper.”
On foreign policy, Venaani said he has noticed that the country had adopted a ‘turn-east strategy’, with major procurement and infrastructure contracts given to the Chinese. As such, Namibia does not have anything to bring balance to the relationship and create a win-win situation.
“Nearly all our major infrastructure developments, our harbour and rail work are given to the Chinese. If you want to have a bilateral policy with one country to a point where there is threat – where the other economy automatically captures yours – then you have a problem. Our economy is captured by China. We must create asymmetrical bilateral relationships where we create win-win situations,” said Venaani.