Shoprite discontent the tip of an iceberg

15 January 2021 | Opinion

CEES STRIJBIS



We could not agree more with the people who strike for better wages. Now at Shoprite, Checkers and U-save, tomorrow perhaps at Pick n Pay, next week at Clicks or Spar, only to be followed by others such as farmworkers.

The solution is in fact quite simple: the government should up the minimum wage to at least N$3 000 per month. (And also the old-age pension and disability grant, for that matter.)

The government has no money? Then let the government do something about it. We have 23 ministers for 2.7 million people. Holland has 17 for 17 million people.

The IPC president, Dr Itula, considers 12 ministers to be enough for Namibia. A minister earns close to a million dollars a year on top of a host of allowances. The prime minister gets more, the president close to N$1.3 million in cash alone. So, by limiting the number of ministers to 12, the government saves heavily. Remember, fewer ministers means fewer deputies, fewer executive directors. Also, if the government limits the number of civil servants to fewer than 100 000 (we have 230 000 of them now), billions could be saved.

Jade McClune states in an article in The Namibian (Friday, 8 January) that the Shoprite CEO earns N$60 000 a day (stunning indeed) while a cashier earns at best N$90. Our president gets roughly N$5 000 per working day versus the minimum wage of domestic workers at N$72.35 per day and farmworkers at N$68.33 a day.

I am sure that the CEOs and their senior staff have to perform to get what they get. But if I look at the election results it is as if many of us do not believe the president and his ministers have performed.

So, don't blame Shoprite and all the others alone. We should blame our leaders too. If we are a Christian nation, as we say we are, let's behave like Christians and pay the labourers a decent wage. We should not only help ourselves but especially our workers who make it possible for us to make money. And, by the way, is it not that the main mission of entrepreneurs, like Shoprite is to make money in order to expand and make more money which will create more jobs, whereas the main mission of government is to serve its people?

We all should endeavour to drastically reduce inequality. For too long have we allowed it to rise. The choice is ours.

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