Geingob blitzes Baumgartsbrunn
When asked what will be done for the Baumgartsbrunn community and when, Geingob said: “Wait until we tell you. We do not discuss dreams.”
16 August 2019 | Government
The purpose of this visit was to engage community members and assess the drought situation in the region. Although they say they understand that the president was in a rush, residents could not hide their disappointment over him spending only a few minutes with them to see how they are living.
Baumgartsbrunn is a humble settlement situated roughly 21 kilometres west of Windhoek. The majority of the community are from the |Khomanîn tribe and work for white farm owners in the vicinity.
They were really looking forward to President Geingob's visit.
Community member Absalom Gereseb said: “We have never seen a president here.”
Gereseb, who has lived on Baumgartsbrunn for the past 18 years, said he was overjoyed to see “my president with my own eyes”.
But he would have really appreciated it if the president visited their homes to see their living conditions.
Katrina Swartbooi said she did not feel good that he left so quickly.
“I am happy he came to see us, but not for five minutes,” she said, before scurrying off to catch the public bus to a town hall meeting at the Ramatex complex in Windhoek.
Farm owner Rida Jakobs said they had to sell 70% of their livestock because of the drought.
One of their boreholes has also dried up.
“We struggle with water here and our animals are getting fewer,” she said.
The poverty levels in the Baumgartsbrunn community are so bad that children almost fell into a fire as they scrambled for a bowl of free soup and vetkoek after the president left.
The soup was made by a local community leader Erna Kharuxas for residents who “have nothing”.
Nearly everyone queued up for soup and vetkoek.
According to Kharuxas the community last received drought relief five months ago and will only receive these food rations again next month.
“All these people are struggling. They do not always receive the drought relief,” she said.
Odile Auchas also queued up for soup and vetkoek and said some of them, this would be their only meal of the day.
“We receive no support from government,” she said.
Paul Kock said he is sad that the president stayed for such a short time, while some of the farmworkers had struggled to get approval from their bosses to meet him.
“My boss asked me how this meeting will help me. I am glad the president came, but he should have walked around to see how the people are living here,” he said.
He added that everyone in the community struggles financially.
“It is very difficult for us to live here. All this land is owned by white farmers, who are difficult people. We do not have land at all,” he said.
At Baumgartsbrunn an average shack houses more than five people, who are mainly sustained by old-age pension grants, because many of the youth are jobless.
Maria Rooinasie farms with goats and has already lost six of them to the drought.
“We have no water here. And look around, there is not a single leaf of grass. It is dry, dry.”
She too complained that they last received drought relief in March this year.
'We don't discuss dreams'
During his short time at Baumgartsbrunn Geingob said the land situation must be addressed urgently, because it is burdening the farm owners.
He informed residents that they are fortunate that the owner of Baumgartsbrunn is so tolerant to allow them to live there.
According to him other people are not so fortunate because when farmers bought the farms they chased away their workers and “they are left on the streets… I mean in the corridors”.
When Namibian Sun asked what will be done and when, Geingob said: “Wait until we tell you. We do not discuss dreams.”
He urged the community to invite him again for a meeting, during which they can discuss their plight.
“We can come anytime if we are invited. We are never invited. We are thanking the owner of the place (for) his tolerance. There are farmers who come and buy farms and just kick people out,” he said.
During the subsequent town hall meeting held at the Ramatex complex, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said the drought relief programme includes food for households, water facility rehabilitation and the provision of free or subsidised fodder.