Calls to review Namibia’s economic model
Windhoek – The Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, Bishop Zephania Kameeta says Namibia’s economic model is based on profit and self-interest which is disconnected from faith and ethics and is also discriminatory against the vulnerable in society.
“We as leaders must learn to listen to those who have been left out and heed the calls for an alternative socio-economic order which challenges greed and selfishness. Our economic and financial legislation and controls must not be biased in favour of the wealthy, but must be in favour of all Namibians,” he emphasised.
Kameeta made these remarks during the Blue Economy Conference in Windhoek on April 27-28 2015, where he also denounced increasing individualistic consumerism, saying that the fight against poverty will not be sustainable if it is not based on the principles of economic, social and climate justice.
The Blue Economy is an economic philosophy, which is the brainchild of Belgium-born Gunter Pauli, whose entrepreneurial activities span across business, culture, science, politics and the environment.
He founded among others, the “Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives” (ZERI) at the United Nations University in Tokyo, and subsequently established The Global ZERI Network as a foundation, redesigning production and consumption into clusters of industries inspired by natural systems.
The Blue Economy goes beyond the Green Economy and presents a competitive business model that sees the possibility of generating more revenue, while creating more jobs and still being able to compete on the global market.
The Minister further called on the public and private sectors to work together to develop a plan of action for just, caring and sustainable financial and economic structures.
The Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare was created in the new Namibian government administration under President Hage Geingob to tackle poverty head-on and to narrow the gap between the rich and poor.
“Individual self-interest and long-term social welfare are not necessarily compatible, and market mechanisms do not lead to an optional social distribution; therefore, political will and regulation is required to optimise sustainable social welfare and narrowing the big gap between the rich and poor in Namibia,” he pointed out.
He further stated that the degradation of the land in Namibia has dire consequences for the lives of the marginalized and poor, especially women and children in regions such as the Kunene in the north-west, where most communal areas have no grass, irrespective whether it rains or not.
He said that is tied closely to women as they till the land and walk distances to collect fire wood and water for their families.
“There is still hope, but the time is very much limited, let us therefore act now. Let us therefore start something in Namibia which will inspire the whole continent and end the horrors and tragedies of destitution, hunger and insecurity,” he said.
Kameeta proposed that a universal minimum income allowance be paid to any person not above 60 years of age and who is not earning above the tax threshold (currently N$ 50,000 per year).
Such a person should also not be receiving any other government grant, such as disability grant, maintenance grant or war veteran grant.
The Minister has been a long-time proponent of the Basic Income Grant (BIG), a social welfare grant that was introduced on a pilot basis in Omitara in eastern Namibia from January 2008 to December 2009, where recipients got a monthly grant of N$100.
Government did not buy into the project at the time, saying that it would create dependency and promote laziness. Brazil was the first country in the world to introduce BIG for its population of over 200 million people while Rwanda joined the same model in recent years to bring down the gap between the haves and have-nots.