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@LeboLion_SA: KitKat got it right

IT SEEMS the moody overcast weather has whet some Namibians appetite for a fight. A hectic version of 'Food Wars' has broken out on Twitter TLs pitting oshifima lovers against macaroni stans; carb vs carb. At the time of going to press, no briefs from the frontline were available. So, for now, this, that and the other from the sidelines…



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      Namibia Must Review Angola RelationsNamibia Must Review Angola Relations

      by Editorial Team

      AN ANNOUNCEMENT BY Omusati governor Erginus Endjala that 18 Angolan babies died of malnutrition in Namibia last year is an urgent reminder that relations between the two countries should change.

      To be clear, Endjala's emphasis that the children didn't die because Namibian authorities could not feed them, and suggestions that the deaths occurred only among Angolan babies should not be taken at face value.

      Food security in Namibia has been dire too. The Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) recently revealed that more than three out of 10 households have reported going through an entire day without food.

      The NSA survey released in October, titled 'A Year Living With Covid-19', also found that 61% of households in Namibia did not have “sufficient food”.

      It is clear that most Namibians are candidates for malnutrition and are in the same dire straits as the 3 200 Angolan famine refugees who fled and found care in Omusati.

      But this is a discussion for another day.

      The death of 18 Angolan babies/children, as well as this week's repatriation of about 1 800 refugees, highlights why Namibia needs to review policies put in place soon after independence, mainly because Angola was embroiled in a civil war.

      The Swapo-led government, partly paying a liberation struggle debt, kept borders open so that Angolans could use Namibian medical care, education and other socio-economic amenities. The humanitarian considerations were lofty, but the conditions have long since changed, especially with the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002.

      If anything, governmental relations have been abused for self-enrichment and have strengthened accusations by the opposition that Swapo was buying votes in areas along the border with Angola.

      An issue as fundamental as Namibia's elections has seen voters registered merely on the word of two people (officially termed 'registration by sworn affidavits'). How ridiculous that more than 30 years after independence we still have people registering to vote without national identity documents. And it is not surprising that the number of voters without official identification is highest in regions along Angolan borders (Kunene, Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango East and West).

      The relations with Angola have also created avenues for corruption, such as what is now playing out in the Fishrot scandal, where Namibia allegedly donated fish to Angola.

      Lest we forget, the outdated relations with Angola led to the questionable dumping of its currency, the kwanza, at the expense of Namibia.

      Then there is the more challenging issue created by the pressure Namibians have to deal with when systems such as healthcare, food supply and education have to cater to Angolans fleeing the neglect of their own government.

      Swapo leaders believe Namibia must simply pay for Angolans in hospitals because Angola accommodated liberation fighters until 1989.

      The government's unwillingness to even address the problem with the Angolan authorities is counterproductive – illnesses and other social problems not tackled in Angola are simply exported to Namibia.

      Problems experienced because of poor border controls keep Namibia from moving the Red Line that prohibits free movement of livestock and vegetables within the country, and instead stifles trade.

      There is simply no logical reason why the Namibian government has failed to act on its pronouncements, the last as recently as 2019, to review the provision of free health care for Angolans.

      More than that, Namibia should adjust its open-border policy with Angola in order to improve services for and interactions among its own citizens.

      Angola recently opened the door for such a review after closing the border to stop people travelling between the two countries because of Covid-19.

      Our government is doing no one a favour by pursuing an outdated policy.

      Angolans need their oil-rich government to implement policies aimed at resolving core issues like food security and health care. Namibians need their government to free up resources for their basic needs.

      A new policy would be in the interest of both countries and their people.


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