26 February 2013

Namibia: Kilus Smack-Dab in Otjivero Goat Trouble

Omitara — A recipient of the goats doled out to communities under the Namibian-German Special Initiative (NGSI) at Otjivero in Omitara claims that Steinhausen Regional Councillor, Kilus Nguvauva, told beneficiaries that "the ball is in your court" and that they did not have to give back the goats as required by the initiative.

This is despite the fact that both Nguvauva and the Omaheke Regional Governor Rapama Kamehozu have rebuked the beneficiaries who sold off their goats and are on record for having said the actions of the young people would derail the NGSI.

Otjivero youths reportedly sold off most of the goats that they received through the NGSI, because they needed to put food on the table. The young woman who did not want her name mentioned said that she and other youths received five goats each between November 13 and 15 in the presence of Nguvauva who apparently said: "I am giving you these goats because you are young and because you don't have jobs."

She claimed that the councillor, who is also the Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, never explained to them how the process works and never told them to give back the animals for redistribution to other needy households. "We thought it was up to us to decide what to do with the goats. That is why some sold the goats because they were hungry," she added. She said that unlike other youths, she took the five goats she received to another farm where there was enough grazing.

"The government or the people of the special initiative shouldn't look at us badly. It was not on purpose," she implored, saying that they appreciated the gesture and were asking for forgiveness, since there clearly was a misunderstanding. But other committee members in the small community of about 1500 people felt that they would have preferred that the coordinators of the project came to them to assess what they needed instead of just deciding to give them goats.

They said goats were not the most beneficial way of raising their living standard and they would have preferred other projects, such as aquaculture and gardening. They said that they have requested government time and again to provide them with training but their requests have fallen on deaf ears. According to Mietjie Brinkman, there is not enough grazing land in Otjivero, because only camps owned by arrogant white farmers surround the place.

And because of the lack of grazing and the hostility of the white farmers their goats roam around the settlement of Omitara among the people and often destroy gardens, causing friction among residents of the small and impoverished community.

She added that the Basic Income Grant (BIG) helped them a lot, but due to limited funds, it was difficult to supply the animals with adequate water, which in any case is unaffordable for most people. BIG was introduced as a pilot project at Otjivero in 2009 where each resident received a monthly grant of N$100, which was later reduced to N$80.

Government did not buy into the universal social grant idea, which left proponents of the grant, such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia (ELCRN) to scrape around for donor money elsewhere. The community said that for the past seven months they did not receive any payment until last week.

Paulina Damm, a committee member said some goats arrived sick while Emilie Garises said two goats died in her kraal soon after they were handed over to her. Sherline Tsuos maintained that Nguvauva told the special initiative people that he had already secured a camp where the goats would graze, but nothing has materialised.

"The councillor (Nguvauva) doesn't take our problems seriously," said Sebby !Nowaseb. He lashed out, saying the councillor dragged their name through the mud with the news report that they had sold off their goats.

He said that while in other communities the goats were distributed to homesteads, Nguvauva opted to give the animals to youths who have no clue about farming. According to Garises: "He (Nguvauva) can't just come here and do as he wishes."

Brinkman said Agra apparently arrived one day to offer training to the youths on how to farm with the animals. The chairperson of the committee, Rudolfine Eigowas, refused to speak to New Era, saying Nguvauva apparently requested them not to speak to the media. Nguvauva could not be reached on his mobile phone as he was said to be out of the country.

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