6 February 2013

Namibia: Donated Food Rots As San Starve in Oshikoto

Omuthiya — The Swapo Party Regional Coordinator for the Oshikoto Region, Armas Amukwiyu, has condemned an incident in which food donated by a local businessman to the San community ended up rotting in a warehouse while its recipients face starvation.

Food and various non-food items were bought and donated to the San community last December by businessman Oiva Shivute and his family as a Christmas gift, but the donation remains in a warehouse belonging to a traditional leader. The incident is almost a repeat of what transpired in the Caprivi Region several years ago, when several senior officials got off scot-free after 230 tonnes of maize donated to needy communities was allowed to rot in a warehouse.

The latest donation that remains undistributed, include food, blankets and clothing, as well as mosquito repellent, intended to benefit members of the San community.

Amukwiyu says he is running out of patience with the situation and is unimpressed by the flimsy excuses that have been provided so far.

"It is unacceptable to deny the San recipients free food made available by good Samaritans, while it is also a serious offence not to prioritize projects in our regional or any sub-national government budgets aimed at benefiting developmental projects involving the San communities," thundered the outspoken youth leader.

Amukwiyu says government will continue to prioritize the plight of the San communities scattered throughout the country.

Speaking at the delayed handover of the donated goods at a San settlement near Omuthiya last week, he stressed that investors and the private sector should support projects that benefit the formerly marginalized San communities as a matter of principle and as part of their corporate social responsibility.

"Our state-owned enterprises and other government agencies have an equal responsibility to prioritize projects aimed at benefiting the San people and to bring our fellow citizens on par with other developed communities over time," suggested Amukwiyu. He also stressed that the Oshikoto Reghion has set the trend to ensure San initiatives are promoted vigorously hence the ruling party's resolve to fully support NGOs and others that assist the San.

He further applauded President Hifikepunye Pohamba for initiating the President's Charity Fund, which saw more than 700 children benefiting from the fund, including the Tsumeb-based TOV Multi-Purpose Centre involving some San beneficiaries from Tsumeb and farms in the Guinas Constituency in the Oshikoto Region.

The President's Charity Fund was established in August 2012 and is intended to create awareness about the plight of the most vulnerable members of society, which is a cause very close to Pohamba's heart.

Amukwiyu said it is unfair for individuals in positions of leadership to thwart initiatives aimed at creating hope for vulnerable members of the society such as the San.

"We have noticed individual commitments from people such as our retired deputy prime minister Dr Libertina Amadhila, as well as the current office holders, who stood firm in their fight to address the plight of the San communities. Therefore, those seen to be reversing that trend are committing sabotage of the highest order and no government will sit idle and observe such retrogressive tendencies rather than to fire such individuals in future," he said.

Amukwiyu further cautioned the traditional authority against withholding and or delaying the distribution of donations by sympathetic business people or organizations in future, adding that its actions are criminal.

"In fact all projects that are specially designed to create employment in various national projects should boast an element of San empowerment to ensure that they (San) are fully integrated into society proper, since they lived and primarily survived on animal hunting and gathering of traditional fruits," he said.

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