By Job Shipululo Amupanda
Job, I am very disappointed that our consortium didn’t take-off’ so agonised Chippa while we were dealing decisively with food plates at a wedding at Onaame village recently. The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement had set in motion economic emancipation vehicles for the youth to be championed in each of the 14 regions – each with about 200 youths working together to achieve the collective agenda of economic freedom.
Oshana region was first; its Consortium 101 is registered with the Master of High Court, launched and now operational. Omusati’s Consortium 103 is also registered and due for launching soon. Erongo’s 104 and Kavango East’s 107 are in motion. Ohangwena has Consortium 102 allocated to it. Chippa was bemoaning the slow pace in actualising Consortium 102. AR activists had organised a concept presentation in Eenhana which did not lead to an energised response as is the case in other regions. Be that as it may, Consortium 102 will soon be actualised. There is a bigger picture Chippa may not know; a characteristic of Ohangwena that is not often discussed, beyond the emotional, sentimentalist and partisan analyses. It will be unsurprising if this column attracts the same emotional response characterising Ohangwena discourse. This columnist will remain undeterred for as political scientists always maintain, truth is like cream in a glass of milk; no matter the amount of milk you pour in, cream will still resurface on the top. Indeed, the emotionalists will be advised to go swim far given the arrival of summer. In political economy there is a term called ‘demographic dividend’ that attempts to theorise the benefits that come with high population, particularly a productive (see young) population. After Khomas region at 342 141, Ohangwena region has the highest population standing at 245 446. In Ohangwena, we learn that demography is not always a dividend. The region is home to millionaires, distinguished professionals and successful businesspeople. In Ohangwena we learn that having millionaires and successful individuals doesn’t always lead to development. Adherents to truth will admit that there is nothing happening in Ohangwena worth national recognition. Of course, Ohangwena is known for maximum attendance of political rallies with endless songs and slogans. In socioeconomic terms, you only need to visit the 2011 census indicators to discover how junior Ohangwena remains to her peers. Take Oshana and Ohangwena regions for example; 40% of household main income in Oshana comes from wages and salaries while in Ohangwena it only accounts for 22%. At 49% Omahake also beats Ohangwena. In Ohangwena, business and non-farming sources of income accounts for 12% while in Oshana is at 17%. It must be known that 90% of Ohangwena inhabitants still reside in rural areas. It must also be known that only 56% of Ohangwena households have safe water. In Oshana, 86% of the households have safe water while in Oshikoto the figure stands at 70%. While only 46% of Oshana households are without toilet facilities, the figure in Ohangwena stands at 80%. Close to 90% of the households in Ohangwena use wood for cooking. There figures are even an improvement from those of 2001.
With only 10% of the population in urban areas some may actually believe that Ohangwena would have a highest agricultural population. The communal sector report of the Namibian Census of Agriculture 2013/2014 does not agree; Omusati that has the highest agricultural population of 243 619. In 2012 we were made aware of ‘Ohangwena II aquifer’ that is estimated to supply the north of the country with water for 400 years at the then consumption rate. Namwater maps had long informed us that the entire Ohangwena region is characterised by underground water before this discovery. It remains an irony why Ohangwena is unknown for any major agricultural project. This is a youthful region with a median age calculated at 17. This reality didn’t attract serious youth development initiatives. Eenhana VTC, some form of tertiary institution, was only introduced 21 years after independence. At its first graduation in 2014 it conferred only 214 certificates in five trades. In March 2016, higher education minister, Dr. Itah Kandjii Murangi, was called to inaugurate a leaking N$2 million extension wing of the centre. Listen to a report in one newspaper; “When the minister toured the building a mat was placed at one of the leaking spots to cover the water.” To sharp analysts of quality education it must indeed be interesting for a vocational training centre, training even in construction, to inaugurate a leaking building. Anyone who is to be met claiming to have seen a university (public or private) or a reputable college in Ohangwena must be quickly arrested and taken for psychological evaluation.
Oshikango is now a shadow of its former self. Even during its glory days its economy proportionally benefited outsiders; Angolans, Portuguese and Chinese. Those who disagree must check the property register for Oshikango. Let it be remembered that only 10% of Ohangwena population resides in towns. The decline of Oshikango has been long coming before the failed Kwanza project. The only thing the Kwanza deal did was to finish off a horse that was already on its way to its ancestors. In November 2012, Thomas Iindji, the chairperson of the NCCI northern branch, had made this plea following a realisation that Oshikango is becoming a ghost town: “We are requesting the highest office in the country…to engage the government of our sister country Angola to iron out any impediments that may have caused the decline of business activity in Oshikango. The prevailing conditions in the town are not as favourable to business as they were in the past. Foreign businesses like car dealerships have moved out of Oshikango to other African countries and one wonders what will happen to the town in the next two years if nothing is done to save the town…those businesses employ our brothers and sisters, especially the youth who now worry about the future of this place”. In the arena of leadership, Ohangwena region is scandalous. Those who disagree must answer this question; why is Governor Usko Nghaamwa popular amongst local comedians? There has been a deficit of enlightened, modern and dynamic leadership. Indeed, the honest amongst us would admit that the general leadership in Ohangwena is characterised by the ungifted amongst the inhabitants. This is not by accident. Political scientists have an explanation; patron-clients relations, the politics of the big man and little man. The big man of politics stays at the centre controlling the politics and activities of the periphery through the little men working for him. In Ohangwena, semi-literate stewards have been placed in positions to implement the dictums of the big men. Several political big men in Windhoek, from Ohangwena, have reproduced themselves into the little men situated all over Ohangwena. Everything, including purchasing pens, must go through the big men in Windhoek. One mischievous youth joked that it is for this reason that the entire region does not have a single traffic light (robot) but Natis still gives drivers’ licences. Vladimir Lenin wants to know from his grave; what is to be done? The big men must fall so is their little men they control. The enlightened, modern and dynamic leadership of young men and women must emerge. Secondly, there is a need for a new narrative that is divorced from emotions and sentimentalism; a narrative building local capacity and solving the Ohangwena paradox. When this happens, when we meet youth like Chippa they will no longer be agonising but rejoicing new initiatives in the battle for economic freedom.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015