The official opposition leader McHenry Venaani said Namibia is falling short in upholding the principles of equality and inclusivity as outlined by the United Nations.
At a press conference he held in Windhoeklast week, Venaani said 68% of marginalised communities live in poverty while 77% face unemployment, which, he said, is not normal by any measure.
“It is disheartening to witness how our nation, despite being signatories to various international conventions and declarations, is falling short in upholding the principles of equality and inclusivity as outlined by the United Nations and other international bodies,” he said.
Namibia is considered to be one of the most unequal countries after South Africa, the epitome of inequality is found in land ownership and income distribution.
Statistics indicate that 1,2 million hectares of land are in the hands of foreigners, with Germans and white South Africans dominating.
The leader of the official opposition party expressed grave concerns regarding the continuous neglect and failure of Namibia’s current policies in safeguarding the rights of minority groups in the country.
According to Venaani, Namibia is home to the second largest population group of Khoisan people after Botswana, but the country is struggling to ensure equity and economic inclusion of its oldest habitats, the Khoisan (Sān).
“The bigger the cultural gap grows between modern Namibia and the oldest surviving culture, the more time passes without tangible and impactful solutions to the threats facing the Sān the greater the task of creating just solutions for these fellow Namibians,” the officialopposition leader stated.
Venani added that the issue of inclusion rings true, not just for the Sān, but for numerous other marginalised groups within the country.
“In the course of my research endeavours, I have undertaken extensive field visits to diverse regions within Namibia, engaging with multiple marginalised communities,” Venanitestified.
He said his insights from the grassroots level have subsequently served as a foundational basis for advocating on behalf of marginal communities at the legislative level.
Namibia is signatory to the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
However, according to the PDM leader, such commitments are not reflected in the lived experiences of minority communities in our country.
Venaani backed up his position using the plight of the /Khomanin Traditional Authority.
He said despite being recognised as a traditional authority, they are denied even the most basic of resources, with no office or communal land allocated to them.
“It is disheartening to learn that the farm provided by a German farmer, to accommodate about 26 /Khomanin people is now home to over 1,000 inhabitants, highlighting the destitute conditions these people are forced to endure,” he stated.
Moreover, many of the members of the /Khomanin are often forced to brave the natural elements as they are left stranded and forced to call the corridors of Windhoek home, he said.
“It is a grim dichotomy wherein while some prosper and flourish, others are left languishing, grappling with marginalisation and exclusion,” Venanisaid.
TheNational Statistical Agenc’s Basic Indicator Report (2017) revealed Namibia’s poverty rate stands at 26.9%.This, he said. reveals the glaring disparity the marginalised communities constitute a disproportionate share.
With the country’s constitutionstating that “the State shall actively promote and maintain the welfare of the people by adopting policies aimed at improvement of the quality of life of the people”, he questioned if the promise of the constitutional provisions is reaching the doorsteps of the marginalised.
Venaani emphasised the need for targeted social assistance, improved educational opportunities, and community-based development programmes as crucial steps to empower the livelihoods of the country’s marginalised.
He said his party visit to theSān community in the Otjombinde constituency has helped us understand the needs of these and similar other communities.
They found that Otjombinde San communities do not have access to the most basic services such as Home Affairs where they can access identity documents and birth certificates.
Similarly, his party visited the Bakgalagadi communityat Corridor 21 in the Aminuis constituency, a sub-tribe of the Tswana people, and much like other marginalised communities, they face similar challenges.
Veneni said members of this community are nowhere to be found within the work force of the country due to not being able to access government basic services and documentation.
The opposition leader also highlighted the plight of the Sān people in the Bwabwata National Park, who have bemoaned the fact that the issue of human-wildlife conflict has had devastating consequences for the community members who predominantly rely on cattle farming for their sustenance.
He said the payouts provided by the government when they lose their livestock to wild animal attacks are meagre and insufficient to compensate for their losses.
At the same time, he said, the community’s chief and traditional authority have expressed their frustration at the lack of recognition and support from government.
Venani said the community had raised concerns about the lack of equitable benefits from the substantial revenue generated through tourism and other activities from the Bwabwata National Park.
“Let us remember, the fight for equality is not a sprint, it is a marathon. One that we must run together, ensuring that none is left behind, and where all voices, no matter how small or marginalised, are heard, respected and valued. Email:email@example.com