DISCUSSIONS by the ruling elite and their business cronies about tackling inequality in Namibia tend to focus exclusively on the colonial legacy that gave whites major advantages against and compared to blacks.
The black elite and their cronies regularly turn a blind eye to the worsening, often dire, plight of their less powerful and often poorly informed compatriots, especially in rural communal areas.
Loud and powerful voices with access to politicians like the president continue pushing for policies and action to empower the “previously disadvantaged”, which with the hindsight of more than 30 years of independence, has been revealed as a euphemism for the nouveau riche, as well as those with political clout.
A vicious clash between cousins Joshua Kaukungwa and former ambassador Bonny Haufiku, reported in The Namibian this week, shows that inequality is being perpetuated at the micro level among blacks or worse still, within the family.
Ambassador Haufiku, doubling as the village headman of Ohalushu, wanted to inherit Joshua Kaukungwa's father's house.
Joshua won the case in the High Court, having argued that his father bequeathed the house to him and his brother.
Haufiku argues that his uncle, Set Kaukungwa (Joshua Kaukungwa's father), actually gave him the village and the communal farmstead.
Set Kaukungwa was the brother of ambassador Haufiku's mother.
It is common in patriarchal societies that men favour those of their nephews who are born of their sisters (ovatekulu in Oshiwambo) to pass on their wealth.
That tradition has often led to widows and their recently orphaned children being chased from their homes following the death of the man – ostensibly to “keep wealth in the family,” despite the destitution it inflicts on the widow and children.
In this instance, the High Court went as far as restraining Haufiku from disrupting Joshua Kaukungwa's residency and granted power for the demolition of a house the ambassador was deemed to have built illegally.
Joshua Kaukungwa is now accusing his powerful cousin of having used his political influence and connections to the Oukwanyama Traditional Authority to reverse the inheritance that was confirmed by the High Court.
Haufiku allegedly also unsuccessfully used the police to investigate claims that Joshua Kaukungwa fraudulently obtained a certificate of ownership of the land from the Ohangwena Land Tribunal.
The traditional authority and the land tribunal have since told Joshua Kaukungwa that his land rights (thus the inheritance) have been nullified.
We can only imagine that many similar cases go unreported where the rich and powerful use their clout and connections to dispossess the vulnerable of what often is their basic, if not only, source of livelihood.
The ruling elite should therefore ensure that the greed of the powerful is fended off by the needs of the vulnerable, many of whom are in a less advantaged position than Joshua Kaukungwa to approach the courts.
It is shameful that lands minister Calle Schlettwein has put himself in a position that appears to undermine the courts, while strengthening opaque decisions of traditional authorities.
Inequality will not be eliminated by focusing only on pre-independence disparities. The culture of a few powerful and connected individuals amassing riches at the expense of poorer people or communities needs to end.