Spare a thought for the San people
Namibia is often classed as a rich country, owing to its vibrant fishing sector and a prospering mining industry. Tourism on the other hand is contributing its fair share to the country’s GDP, but can we really say the same about the living conditions of our people particularly those from still marginalised communities.
Yesterday, this newspaper carried a disheartening article on the living conditions of arguably the most marginalised in the country, the San people. Although the article concentrated on the San people living in the Caprivi Region, the sordid state of poverty of these Namibians is well-documented countrywide as thousands of them continue to live under wholesale penury, marginalisation and dehumanisation to say the least. Some still don’t have basic shelter and food, while the lack of proper sewage and sanitation to some of these people have created greater health risks that could cut short the lives of those exposed to such conditions.
This problem just reveals a deeper contradiction at the heart of the State’s anti-poverty strategy. In fact, as part of our National Development Programme 3 (NDP3), the welfare of the San people is categorised as a priority by our Government.
And while we commend the concerted efforts by the former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertine Amathila as far as the plight of the San and other marginalised Namibians is concerned, Government is still failing to address issues facing them. Now Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku has seemingly inherited the work of his predecessor, but his involvement has been reduced to widow dressing.
Policy pronouncements and increasing public participation as well as awareness about the plight of the San people have been the uninteresting gospel preached by our leaders. To the contrary, thousands of these people are still living under inhumane conditions despite a potpourri of promises by the powers that be that their conditions will improve for the better. What the San people need is for Government to go beyond policy pronouncements to implementation of strategies and programmes in an efficient manner.
In addition, there should be full engagement with the affected communities to ensure that there is greater synergy amongst stakeholders tasked with the improvement of the livelihood of these people. It is upon our Government to take this matter head-on and reverse such trends. As it stands our fellow Namibians are slipping back into even deeper marginalisation.