10 EDITORIAL Friday, September 8 2017 | NEW ERA Lumumba and the 100% employment ambition Kenyan lawyer PLO Lumumba – speaking in Windhoek on Wednesday on the invitation of New Era Publication Corporation – quipped that Namibia, given the natural resources under her belly and her lean population, should have 100 percent employment. While he believes that quality leadership is key to achieving this, Lumumba also considered the fact that the country is battling the legacy of colonialism whose indelible mark would not have been erased in 27 years of independence. It is a difficult question to ponder, yet an exciting one to explore. It is often argued that achieving optimal employment might only be expected to occur in war time when civilian populations are needed to effort. But even in the absence of war in Namibia, Lumumba asserts that achieving that feat should be possible. employment vary. But it is said that Japan had optimal employment throughout most of the 1980s as greater than one of jobs to job seekers. The reasons for that included a strong and growing economy, a protected market and strict immigration limits. Growing the economy and protecting markets have been some of the Namibian government’s Growth of the economy is stunted by a myriad of factors – which might include inadequate political will. The fact that Namibia has no substantial stakes in the largest mining activities in the country, with the exception of diamonds, is telling. Government has three percent in Rössing, the biggest uranium mine in the country that has been extracting that mineral since 1976. That’s 41 years of mineral exploitation without active involvement of the host country. The amount of money that would have trickled into the coffers of the state as a substantial co-owner of that company, on top of royalties and taxes, would have changed the economic face of the country for eternity. Other mines in the same industry too are foreign owned. The ‘strategic minerals policy’ mooted some years ago and which sought to reserve state through Epangelo Mining, is gathering dust somewhere in the corridors of power. We are opposed to state monopoly but not to state capitalism under which government controls production and the use of capital. The latter model, if pursued without fail, would have helped us re-invest revenues from our natural resources back into the economy. And when the economy is growing like a healthy baby, it stimulates jobs on an industrial scale. Also, we haven’t enacted laws to jealously and genuinely protect markets for locals to fully participate in the economy. New Era reports today about Chinese nationals operating retail businesses in Havana, arguably the poorest slum settlement in Windhoek. Retail, not wholesale. Namibians who are trying to enter that segment of business have no chance of succeeding as they are elbowed to the edge of collapse by their more muscular and experienced competitors. Asking for a 100 percent unemployment is perhaps overzealous. America, the largest economy in the world, has 4.3 percent unemployment. So to ask Namibia to have zero unemployment is like asking Jesus to dine with the devil. It will never happen. But President Hage Geingob has provided clarity of thought on his equally ambitious poverty eradication drive. He believes in setting the bar high so that even failure to hit the target would still be regarded as success. If you set an employment target at 90 percent, who among your citizens would accept to be part of the unemployed 10 percent? Reserving percentage for failure is wrong. Let’s therefore plan to employ everyone and reach the highest rate possible, even if not 100 percent. The hinterland… An aerial view of the spacious farmlands surrounding Windhoek, Namibia. In view of the Landless People’s Movement conference on ancestral land rights that starts here today, I’d like to make a few observations and a recommendation. Firstly, there is no doubt a total mismatch between average earnings and house prices in Namibia. Most people simply cannot afford homes; hence the growth of the shacklands. Take into account: According to the NDP5 report, only 15% of the population earns more than the minimum domestic workers wage (N,353 per month). The average household size according to the last census was around 4.4 persons per household. There is 50+% unemployment among youth between the ages of 20 and 24 years, according to the NSA’s 2016 report on the workforce. The FAO reported last year that in Namibia around 43% of the population is chronically undernourished. UNICEF says a quarter of all Namibian children are stunted in their growth due to lack of protein, while some reports suggest one-third are stunted. mass housing programme show that only one in ten households can afford what they call a low-income house. To afford a simple threebedroom house in Khomasdal or Katutura for 750,000 a household must have a combined income of over 23,000 to get a bank loan, but only 5% of households are in that income bracket. The fact is that an average house in the mentioned areas now goes for above a million dollars. This means a very large number of people – even graduates and professionals – are simply priced out of the housing market. It has also been noted by 2030 around 75% of the population will live in urban centres. This suggests that in terms of resolving the land question, dealing with urban landlessness is a key factor. Consider also that the high cost of rent is the single biggest expense on most household budgets, with some spending more than 60% of income on rent. High rent and mortgage repayments are thus a major contributor to poverty at household level. Looking for solutions The solution, in my view, Photo: ongosvalley.com.na Why we should give the land back to the people is to abandon the notion of selling the land to the people. There are many reasons to do this besides the fact that it is illegal to buy and sell stolen property, but the proven fact is that a large share of the people are in any case too impoverished even to afford healthy nutrition, never mind land prices. What we should do is give to every natural born citizen the right to a piece of land to live and build a home on. Councils should only charge for the cost of servicing residential land, not for the land itself. What I know of administrative law is that an entity may only reasonably apply a charge where it has incurred a cost. If council did not incur any cost in acquiring the land then it is applying an unfair charge in selling it – in this case to the original owners. The land they need to live on should be restored to the citizens as a lawful entitlement, as their birthright. It can also be given on a 30, 60 or 90-year transferable lease. Land and housing rights and security of tenure should not depend on who has the most money. Every citizen who comes of age should by law be entitled to a piece of land to build a home on – no matter the race or colour. In this way, by allocating the land freely and according to a rational plan every family can begin to build at their own pace and within their means, with a positive spinoff on the construction industry, so stimulating job creation. In this way – by giving the sacred land back to the suffering people – we can end homelessness, break the lingering curse of stark inequality, reduce poverty, and relieve the massive stress people. To attract professionals to the smaller towns those municipalities can offer larger erven and residential plots than in the bigger, more congested cities. This would solve the problem of landlessness for two-thirds of the population. It may mean that large farms bordering the cities may have to be expropriated in the public interest, but it’s clearly a far worse sin to force the black and brown people to live in unhealthy, crowded concentration camps called townships, when there is so much precious land in the hands of the privileged few.
Friday, September 8 2017 | NEW ERA 11 thought leaders Namibian economy craves an advanced mathematical model >> P12 Africa: Unleash thyself If Africa is to grow, then all of us must now make a solemn vow that whatsoever we do, of the continent. All men and African countries must roll up their sleeves and work. Those in positions of leadership must see those positions as positions of trust not opportunities for material aggrandizement. As Dr Boima Fahnbulleh, a Liberian politician and diplomat has said, Africa can rise and indeed her leaders and her people make that choice in their home now. ship has been the driver of hu- replete with stories of societies which have known astounding of other societies that have had to endure great pain because of - ever, for the purpose of this paper According to Peter Drucker, “Leadership is the lifting of higher standards, the building of In Africa, the term leader is of- who wields power. It does not nutshell, the mere occupation of a position that calls for leadership However, as we know differ- treated charismatic ‘fiendish - - countries to destruction. In his book ‘Virtuous Leader- essential ingredients of leadership –service, virtue in action writings, the Book of Wisdom pillars of leadership: “Leaders - striving of the spirit towards great ends – that confers this ship consists of more than just He continued: a leader is And the essence of service is Leaders who practice humil- fellow participants in a joint mis- go hand in hand in leadership. these ambitions into service for lence for Africa hinges on good governance, the rule of law and essential to ensure that resources argued that for this to be accomplished, then the continent needs determined political leadership to set and drive plans for reduction. Despite the abundant avail- - Democratic Republic of Congo, failed to realise their potential - be put down to poor leadership. leaders are permitted to get sion must be attributed to large parts to greed which has become preferred thrives on corruption and nepotism. African societies wealth, power and crude racial, nected business elites use their their families to the detriment of their countries and the populace. people embrace the path of selfless service to their countries. African leaders must provide action. As the late Pan Africanist Thought without action is blind. Challenges to Africa’s growth The essence of development is to lives based on clear policies which underpin development in- around capital cities of Africa evident that Africa is beginning to rise. - lines, growing modern technologies, are just but few indicators of a continent beginning to grow. However, these positive signs are few and far between. The bitter and dominant narrative is that the number of people struggling It is therefore clear that development should not be measured and per capita income, but real it will have to adopt approaches that will address all the obstacles to the development such con- - education and lack of innovation among other impediments. (a) Civil Strife and Terrorism A number of African countries such Democratic Republic of strife and terrorism, this has led to death of people, loss of properties and collapse of Industries wand Agriculture with its attendant eliminate such strife and other terrorist activities, as a condition tion of resources. (b) Rampant Corruption indicated that most African government are not able to meet rampant corruption. Corruption in these regions is increasing, despite the campaigns and activ- - across the region. Africa is aware of the problems culture is strong and continues to undermine efforts at growth. In an interview with a reporter - Prof PLO Lumumba that she underestimated the level of corruption in her government when she took the leadership sacked the whole government - In some instances acts of corruption have been used to fuel civil wars and terrorism. It is - are being made in countries such Botswana and I believe even (c) International Aid International Aid has curtailed - 2016, President Paul Kagame of should not be relied on forever but instead build institutions and In his statement President Kagame said that “There is no African Trade to the level we see organisation have helped Africa cation, governance and in other been accused of using stories and documentaries of desperate Africans to advance their own help, corruption fosters corrup- props up governments-providing not continue to be in economic - wean herself off aid. (d) Unfair Trade Policies Through Regional blocs such countries should strive to remove to improve intra African trade. that the continent will realize of her people. (e) Education and the knowledge gap for economic growth, social Africa households cannot afford basic education for their children. Although some governments have taken up the matter of pro- areas lack schools and even is wanting. African countries should Lessons can be drawn from coun- countries that produce labor strong on innovation and inven- Woodson, we must guard against miseducation of our People. * Prof PLO Lumumba, LL.D, D. Litt (hc), CPS (K), is an advocate of the High Courts of Kenya and Tanzania and director/chief executive of Kenya School of Law. He made these remarks on Wednesday in Windhoek, where he spoke at New Era Publication Corporation’s Thought Leaders Series.